Norman , new york NY 04/24/05
Look at the facts and the law; don't be guided by emotion
During the media blitz over Terri Schiavo, people from various interest groups, mostly representatives of the Christian conservative movement such as Pat Buchanan's vitriolic sister Bayh Buchanan, made unsupported statements about Terri Schiavo having been abused by Michael Schiavo as if those statements were facts and too many members of the public accepted them as being true.
Did anyone notice that long after the dust settled and the media moved on there was buried on page A-11 of the Saturday, April 16, 2005, issue of the New York Times in a small article titled "Report on Schiavo Finds No Abuse" the real fact that the Florida State Department of Children and Families investigated nine accusations of abuse made between 2001 and 2004 and that State agency found no clear evidence to support the allegations made by Robert Schindler and others that Terri Schiavo's hygiene was neglected, that she was denied dental care, that she was poisoned,that she was subjected to physical harm, etc.
The lesson to be learned is one that litigator's and people who serve on juries learn quickly. Everyone comes to preliminary conclusions based on the information that they have available to them. However, notwithstanding those premiminary conclusions, we must keep our minds open and never judge the guilt or innocence of an accused unless and until we have heard and seen all of the relevant evidence.
The Bayh Buchanans of our society have a constitutionally protected right to express opinions. However, members of the public, and especially the leaders and molders of public opinion, have a responsibility to base their public statements on the facts and the law and not on their religious beliefs or their political agenda and the rest of us have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to understand the facts and the law before we come to conclusions on issues that affect society.
Norman Jay ITzkoff
Norman Itzkoff, new york NY 03/31/05
Reply to Luke
Hello Luke. You use the word "starve" and make what you call a moral judgment that removing the feeding tube was immoral. It might be helpful for you to read a bit more about what actually happens when a feeding tube is withdrawn from someone in Terri Schiavo's condition. The medical facts may cause you to change your mind about whether any suffering was involved.
More troubling is your statement that after years of consideration by the courts you, who have not had the opportunity to review the evidence presented to multiple courts, have come to the purely emotional conclusion that we cannot know what Ms. Schiavo's wishes were "convincingly". If I were to tell you and everyone else on this list that if I were in Terri Schiavo's condition, whether you call it a persistent vegative state, or minimally conscious, or anything else, I would want the feeding tube removed from me and you and everyone else on this list were subpoenaed to give testimony in a court proceeding about what my intentions are should I fall into such a state in the future, would you agree that I have the right to make that decision for myself and that my oral expresson of that wish to you and everyone else on this list is valid evidence of what my wishes are?
Norman Jay Itzkoff
Luke , Phila PA 03/31/05
Regardless of your stance on this issue, you must agree that to starve someone to death is immoral. Because we cannot know what Shaivo's wishes are convincingly, I see no harm in allowing her to live. If Shaivo does indeed have a level of consciousness (and she appears to) she would be suffering terribly as she starved. If the decision is made to let her die, I think lethal injection is no less humane. I would imagine that negotiation efforts were made in private before this issue gained such attention. Just because it didn't come up on google doens't mean it didn't happen.
A , Springfield WA 03/30/05
Couldn't agree more
I feel exactly the same way. The adage "hard cases make bad law" is well illustrated here. My view is that there's no way of determining what Terry Shiavo's wishes would have been, what her mental state is now, and whether she has been or is now suffering. I agree with the right to a dignified death, but I couldn't bear it if I truly believed, as the Schindlers appear to, that my child could be saved and her life support was withdrawn.
This is a ghastly situation, and these decisions should not be made by the courts, the legislature, or especially the executive branch. Too bad this was not mediated from the get-go. But then this never would have made the news, would it? Perhaps a good thing that could come from this case could be increased awareness of the benefit that early mediation can play.
Norman , new york NY 03/30/05
The basic issue in the Terri Schiavo case is not subject to negotiation as the author suggests. Our legal system confers upon each of us the right to refuse, for whatever reasons each of us deems sufficient, the administering of life prolonging medical measures. The basic issue in the Schiavo case is to ascertain what, if anything, her wishes in that regard are. In the absence of a living will, our legal system confers upon the courts the responsibility to determine by clear and convincing evidence, if such evidence exists, what the person's wishes are. One possible outcome of such an inquiry is that there is not sufficient clear and convincing evidence to determine the person's wishes. However, that was not the determination in Ms. schiavo's case. The court determined that she did express her wishes by clear and convincing evidence at a time when she was legallly competent to do so. Whatever your religious beliefs, I suggest you should respect Ms. Schiavo's wishes and you should respect our judicial system and not try to negotiate away the rights of Ms. Schiavo or any of the rest of us.
Norman Jay Itzkoff