Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Personal Matters

I've wondered at a few points during the past weeks how much our own experiences affect our view on Terri's fight for life. I've also wondered if my own view is too subjective. My brother died in an ICU after being taken off life support. Unlike Terry, he was not only in a vegetative state but wasn't able to survive without a respirator. I would have done anything to have him back again if there was any hope that he would live, but 80% of his heart was damaged and life support was postponing the inevitable.

The experience of seeing him on a respirator was harrowing. Much of the time he would gag and his body would go into spasms when his own attempts to breath didn't synch with the timing of the machine. But every minute he was still with us, to hold his hand or stroke his head was precious. It gave us time to say goodbye. I believe God granted us that mercy, as I finally came to accept that it was time for him to go home.

I miss my brother enough that the selfish part of me wishes he could have stayed, even if it meant being in a state like Terri. And it isn't for me to comment on the reasons why my brother had to go and Terri is still with us. But had we been in the Schindler's situation, and had he married someone as heartless as Michael Schiavo instead of my wonderful sister in law, we would be fighting every bit as hard.

At Wittenberg's Gate, bloggers Baillie and Corie share there own stories as they relate to Terri. After reading them you my also conclude that "objectivity" is not always what it's cracked up to be.

Update - Ed at ProLifeBlogs had a post today about a father who asks "When will they come for my son?"

In February 1991 our son Ryan suffered a severe brain injury. He was in the hospital for 6 months, and has never regained the ability to walk or talk. He cannot answer Yes or No by any means. He is totally dependent on our care. When he came home from the hospital, he had a feeding tube to his stomach just like Terri Schiavo does now. Through a lot of repetition he learned how to eat and drink again at home, and since we didn't need the feeding tube we removed it and the hole in his stomach healed quite well, quite naturally. He likes to be around people, and he watches a lot of TV.

In short, Ryan's pretty close to the level of functioning of Terri Schiavo, as far as I can tell from the news reports about her. And now her husband, Michael Schiavo, is very close to having her feeding tube removed and having her starved to death. It's at this point I hear the words of actress Frances McDormand as Fargo's Police Chief Marge Gunderson in my head: "And for what? A little bit of money." A little bit of money. The hundreds of thousands Michael Schiavo got to help her, he now stands to receive when she is starved to death. So he can continue on with the other woman he now lives with, and their children. The honorable thing would be for him to simply walk away and let Terri live, but I guess precedent-setting case law is not often set by honorable men doing the honorable thing.

So Terri Schiavo is about to die of a court-ordered thirst, to be starved to death. Ironic, isn't it? In this country a condemned man gets a Last Meal of whatever he wants -- steak, lobster, you name it. So the only thing you can conclude is that mass murderers have more rights than Terri Schiavo. But that's not the worst of it. If a demented disk jockey were to attempt to stage a wacky radio stunt that involved starving a bunch of small rodents, he would be run out of town on a rail. In this country, even gerbils have more rights than Terri Schiavo.

Right now the chess game in the courts continues. And when Terri Schiavo is put to death, you all will feel bad about it for a while, but it will slowly fade from memory as you move on to other things. But for us, a haunting question will remain: When Will They Be Coming For Ryan?

It doesn't get any closer to home than that.
papijoe 8:20 AM