Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Farewell Terri, This Isn't the End

Terri Schiavo passes away

Nearly two weeks after a court ordered her feeding tube removed, and after multiple attempts by her parents to get the order lifted, Terri Schiavo passed away on Thursday at the age of 41.

Schiavo died at the Pinellas Park hospice where she lay for years while her husband and her parents fought over her fate in the nation’s longest, most bitter right-to-die dispute.

The family battle over whether to keep her alive galvanized the nation over the last month, with even President Bush and Congress weighing in.

The case had spent seven years winding its way through the courts, with Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, repeatedly on the losing end.

They have been at odds with their son-in-law, Michael Schiavo, who consistently won legal battles by arguing that his wife would not have wanted to live in her condition.

Denied access
Brother Paul O’Donnell, an adviser to Schiavo’s parents, said the parents and their two other children “were denied access at the moment of her death. They’ve been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there and they were denied access by Michael Schiavo. They are in there now, praying at her bedside.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to intervene for the sixth time. Hours earlier in an 9-2 ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta declined to grant a new hearing in the case — the fourth time since last week that it ruled against the Schindlers.

Why, oh why wouldn't Michael let them be with her in her last moments?

May God and Terri forgive us for letting this happen
papijoe 8:58 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: The Next Step for the Culture of Death

According to Wesley Smith in NRO, it is pre-emptive euthanasia so that organs can be harvested:

And killing isn’t the half of it. Some of the same bioethicists who have been telling us how right and moral it is to dehydrate Terri Schiavo have also urged that people like Terri — that is, human non-persons — be harvested or otherwise used as mere instrumentalities. Bioethicist big-wig Tom Beauchamp of Georgetown University has suggested that “because many humans lack properties of personhood or are less than full persons, they…might be aggressively used as human research subjects or sources of organs.”

Such thinking is not fringe in bioethics, a field in which the idea of killing for organs is fast becoming mainstream. In 1997, several doctors writing for the International Forum for Transplant Ethics opined in The Lancet that people (like Terri) diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state should be redefined as dead for purposes of organ procurement:

If the legal definition of death were to be changed to include comprehensive irreversible loss of higher brain function, it would be possible to take the life of a patient (or more accurately to stop the heart, since the patient would be defined as dead) by a lethal injection, and then to remove the organs needed for transplantation subject to the usual criteria for consent.
Knowing that this kind of thinking predominates in contemporary bioethics, I decided to bring up the matter in my Court TV debate with Bill Allen.

Wesley Smith: If Terri is not a person, should her organs be procured with consent?
Bill Allen: …Yes, I think there should be consent to harvest her organs, just as we allow people to say what they want done with their assets.

Put that in your hat and ponder it for a moment: If organ harvesting from the cognitively devastated were legal today — thank goodness, it isn’t — Michael Schiavo would be the one, no doubt sanctioned by Judge Greer, who could consent to doctors’ “stopping” Terri’s heart and harvesting her organs.

Smith seems to be one of the few in his field of bioethics opposing this future. In fact I think that soon "bioethics" will become a medical version of realpolitick in justifying the agenda of the Culture of Death. The road to this future has been paved by the re-defining of values. Take for example the definition of the value of human life. The acceptance of abortion has already laid the groundwork by denying the unborn rights as human beings. But I wonder to what degree the supporters of abortion will continue to feel comfortable with the extension of this definition beyond the unborn:

If you want to know how it became acceptable to remove tube-supplied food and water from people with profound cognitive disabilities, this exchange brings you to the nub of the Schiavo case — the “first principle,” if you will. Bluntly stated, most bioethicists do not believe that membership in the human species accords any of us intrinsic moral worth. Rather, what matters is whether “a being” or “an organism,” or even a machine, is a “person,” a status achieved by having sufficient cognitive capacities. Those who don’t measure up are denigrated as “non-persons.”

Allen’s perspective is in fact relatively conservative within the mainstream bioethics movement. He is apparently willing to accept that “minimal awareness would support some criterion of personhood” — although he doesn’t say that awareness is determinative. Most of his colleagues are not so reticent. To them, it isn’t sentience per se that matters but rather demonstrable rationality. Thus Peter Singer of Princeton argues that unless an organism is self-aware over time, the entity in question is a non-person. The British academic John Harris, the Sir David Alliance professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester, England, has defined a person as “a creature capable of valuing its own existence.” Other bioethicists argue that the basic threshold of personhood should include the capacity to experience desire. James Hughes, who is more explicitly radical than many bioethicists (or perhaps, just more candid), has gone so far as to assert that people like Terri are “sentient property.”

So who are the so-called human non-persons? All embryos and fetuses, to be sure. But many bioethicists also categorize newborn infants as human non-persons (although some bioethicists refer to healthy newborns as “potential persons”). So too are those with profound cognitive impairments such as Terri Schiavo and President Ronald Reagan during the latter stages of his Alzheimer’s disease.

Personhood theory would reduce some of us into killable and harvestable people. Harris wrote explicitly that killing human non-persons would be fine because “Non-persons or potential persons cannot be wronged” by being killed “because death does not deprive them of something they can value. If they cannot wish to live, they cannot have that wish frustrated by being killed.”

Currently harvesting organs is illegal but the philosophical justification is already in place. Oregon's assisted suicide laws and their pro-death Sen Wyden are already setting some of the necessary precedents. Technically organ harvesting is illegal in the country where it is most widely practiced: China. But it seems evident that this brave new world will be here long before the moral opposition to it collapses.
papijoe 8:08 AM |

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Dr Cranford Tees Off on Scarborough

Check out this transcript and let me know if Dr Cranford seems a tad...defensive?

DANIELS: Well, Joe, at this point, we are going to delve into the medical aspect of the story. I want to bring in Dr. Ronald Cranford. He's a neurologist at Hennepin Medical Center in Minneapolis. And, Doctor, before we continue, I want our viewers to understand what your role was in the legal case. I understand that Michael Schiavo and his team asked you to examine his wife. Is that correct?

CRANFORD: Yes. Yes, they did.

DANIELS: And from my understanding, I just want to be accurate, you examined Terri Schiavo for about 45 minutes. Is that right?

CRANFORD: I think 42 minutes, but 45 is fine, sure.

DANIELS: All right. Well, we want to be accurate here. What was your conclusion at the end of --


CRANFORD: Wait a minute. You are not accurate on a lot of things here. You're saying a lot of -- she's not starving to death. Do you understand that? She is dehydrating to death.

DANIELS: Well, why do you say that? Tell us how you came to that conclusion?


CRANFORD: Can I tell you why? Because I have done this 25 to 50 times. I don't know how many times Joe has done it, but I've done it 25 to 50 times in similar situations. And they die within 10 to 14 days.

Nancy Cruzan did not die in six days [as guest Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition suggested earlier in the program]. She died in 11 days, 11.5 hours. And Terri Schiavo will die within 10 to 14 days. And they are dying of dehydration, not starvation. And that's just a lie. And Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

DANIELS: Well --

CRANFORD: I have been at the bedside of these patients. I know what they die from. I've seen them die. And this is all bogus. It's all just a bunch of crap that you are saying. It's totally wrong.

DANIELS: Well, with all due respect, Doctor, it sounds like you think that you know what you are talking about, so let's ask you about that.


DANIELS: Are you 100 percent correct in your opinion that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Do you agree with that?

CRANFORD: I am 105 percent sure she is in a vegetative state. And the autopsy will show severe irreversible brain damage to the higher centers, yes.

DANIELS: Why are you so sure, Doctor?

CRANFORD: Because I examined her. The court-appointed guardian examined her. Four neurologists at the hospital where she was has said she's carried a diagnosis of vegetative state for 12 years. Every neurologist that examined her, except for Dr. [William] Hammesfahr [a neurologist selected by Terri Schiavo's parents], who is a charlatan, has said she is in vegetative state. That's what the court found. Just because you don't like --


DANIELS: Doctor, was a CAT scan -- Doctor, your critics would ask you, was a CAT scan used? Was an MRI taken? Were any of these tests taken?

CRANFORD: You don't know the answer to that? The CAT scan was done in 1996, 2002. We spent a lot of time in court showing the irreversible -- you don't have copies of those CAT scans? How can you say that?

The CAT scans are out there, distributed to other people. You have got to look at the facts. The CAT scan is out there. It shows severe atrophy of the brain. The autopsy is going to show severe atrophy of the brain. And you're asking me if a CAT scan was done? How could you possibly be so stupid?

This isn't the first time we've seen the abrasive tone and belligerent language from Dr Cranford. I'd go so far as to say he doesn't sound at all like an objective clinician and every bit like an ideologue with his favorite dog in the fight.

As it turns out Joe Scarborough, while well intentioned, didn't have all his facts straight and blew a huge opportunity to nail Dr Cranford. When Dr Cranford said he was "105%" certain that Terri was PVS, that was the time to ask him what his percentage of certainty was for Sgt David Mack when Dr Cranford diagnosed him as PVS. As I posted previously, Sgt Mack went on to make a stunning recovery.

If anyone saw this interview, I'd be curious to hear whether Dr Cranford came across as obnoxiously as the transcript suggests. Even if sympathetic media types like Scarborough and Hannity can't get the important facts straight, hopefully the arrogance and callousness of right to die advocates such as Dr Cranford and Felos will be exposed regardless.
papijoe 12:28 PM |

Blogburst for Terri: More Reflections on a Warped Soul

Bobby Schindler isn't a psychiatrist. Neither am I. But he hit on a very basic and self-evident truth about Atty George Felos the other day when he appeared on Fox (hat tip to Nana)

"I think Mr. Felos has some infatuation with death."

This was Bobby Schindler's response to Felos' comment that the dying Terri Schiavo looked "beautiful".

While virtually all other eyewitnesses described the dying brain-injured woman as "gaunt," "drawn," "struggling" and "fighting like hell" for life, Felos described Terri as "beautiful" and "peaceful" to reporters during a Saturday press conference:

I've done several posts on George Felos' inner life. I found an article that Felos had writen for a local new age magazine on meditation that offers some further insight on his character.

We suffer the fate of the sorcerer's apprentice. Remember the movie Fantasia? Mickey Mouse disobediently uses his master's magic to animate broomsticks to fill a vat with buckets of well water (the apprentice's task), but when the job is completed, he can't stop the magical workers from dumping more water and flooding the castle. We have created these vast and useful intellects to do our bidding yet, without learning how to operate the shut-off switch, our willing servants can demonize us by preventing the relaxation, renewal and inner peace that are necessary for our well-being.

Meditation is mind-control: you learning how to control your own mind. Control does not mean subjugation. The mind is obviously an essential tool and appreciates kind treatment.

Felos also defines meditation as "the practice of awareness without judgment". Does that mean Felos himself is non-judgemental? You be the judge:

Felos said Democrats who allowed a Senate vote on a milder version of legislation crafted to save Schiavo should be "ashamed."

"Wear your shame for what you did and atone for it, because to trample on [Terri's] rights again would be abhorrent," he railed.

The pro-euthansia attorney said it was "cruel and inhuman" not to starve Ms. Schiavo to death.

"It is cruel and inhuman to say to a patient who says I don't want to be artificially fed to remove her feeding tube, have her enter the death process and then start life support again."

Felos will appropriate the language of morality when it serves his purpose. But it is inconsistant with his belief system. The error Felos has made is that meditation does not make one more spiritual by itself. As he himself states, it is simply mind control. I can attest from years of practicing meditation in my youth, it had absolutely no positive effect on my character. Meditation has merely made George Felos more focused on his twisted motivations. Thus more dangerous.
papijoe 7:55 AM |

Monday, March 28, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Missed Opportunity to Save Terri?

From Irrevocable Choice

Was I the only one that didn't catch this last week?

It looks like Jeb Bush made a play to take Terri into custody and was foiled by the local cops.

Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo wasn't to be removed from her hospice, a team of Florida law enforcement agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted - but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge's order, The Miami Herald has learned.

Agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told police in Pinellas Park, the small town where Schiavo lies at Hospice Woodside, that they were on the way to take her to a hospital to resume her feeding.

For a brief period, local police, who have officers around the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called a showdown.

In the end, the state agents and the Department of Children and Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.

"We told them that unless they had the judge with them when they came, they were not going to get in," said a source with the local police.

"The FDLE called to say they were en route to the scene," said an official with the city police who requested anonymity. "When the Sheriff's Department, and our department, told them they could not enforce their order, they backed off."

I can't fault Jeb Bush for backing down as this could have turned into all kinds of ugly:

The incident, known only to a few, underscores the intense emotion and murky legal terrain that the Schiavo case has created. It also shows that agencies answering directly to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had planned to use a wrinkle in state law that would have allowed them to legally get around the judge's order. The exception in the law allows public agencies to freeze a judge's order whenever an agency appeals it.

Participants in the high-stakes test of wills, who spoke with The Miami Herald on the condition of anonymity, said they believed the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis - and a confrontation between dueling lawmen.

"There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink," said one official with knowledge of Thursday morning's activities. In jest, one official said local police discussed "whether we had enough officers to hold off the National Guard."

"It was kind of a showdown on the part of the locals and the state police," the official said. "It was not too long after that Jeb Bush was on TV saying that, evidently, he doesn't have as much authority as people think."

Bush's spokesperson and DCF officials denied it. But clearly something was afoot.

The developments that set Thursday morning's events in motion began the previous afternoon, when the governor and DCF chief Lucy Hadi held an impromptu news conference to announce that they were considering sheltering Schiavo under the state's adult protection law. The department has been besieged, officials say, by thousands of calls alleging Schiavo is the victim of abuse or neglect.

Alerted by the Bush administration that Schiavo might be on her way to their facility, officials at Morton Plant Hospital went to court Wednesday, asking Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, who ordered the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube last week, what to do.

"It's an extraordinary situation," said Beth Hardy, a hospital spokeswoman. "I don't think any of us has seen anything like it. Ever."

Greer signed an order Wednesday afternoon forbidding the department from "taking possession of Theresa Marie Schiavo or removing her" from the hospice. He directed "each and every and singular Sheriff of the state of Florida" to enforce his order.

I suppose cynics could say that Jeb telegraphed his moves and was going through the motions to give the impression he was doing something. But the ever smarmy George Felos couldn't resist gloating about the missed opportunity, which leads me to believe it was a sincere effort:

George Felos, the attorney for Schiavo's husband, Michael, said he doesn't think DCF officials knew of the window of opportunity they had created until well after they filed their appeal.

"Frankly, I don't believe when they filed their notice of appeal they realized that that gave them an automatic stay," Felos said. "When we filed our motion to vacate the automatic stay ... they realized they had a short window of opportunity and they wanted to extend that as long as they could.

"I believe that as soon as DCF knew they had an opportunity they were mobilizing to take advantage of it, without a doubt."

Had the state lawyers been sharper and mobilized immediately, perhaps Terri would be safely in custody right now.

What is also disturbing is the "loyalty" of the sheriff's department and local cops. The Empire Journal has done a great job of documenting the multiple conflicts of interest in this case. Sheriff Everett Rice has contributed to Greer's campaign and his department also hired Michael Schiavo as a nurse in the jail system. Other than that I'm not aware of any other collusion to cover the case up between Greer and the Sheriff's Departments, but the certainly appear zealous in carrying out Greer's execution orders.
papijoe 3:41 PM |

Blogburst for Terri: A Song for Comfort

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away

I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; in the morning
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away

I've been listening to the Jars of Clay version, but I've never heard a bad one.
papijoe 3:01 PM |

Blogburst for Terri: Demand an Autopsy

I'm conflicted over whether to wait on this, but I think Michael Schiavo will move quickly to push through Terri's cremation while her supporters are stunned with grief. If anyone thinks it's ghoulish or shows a lack of faith I apologize and may come to agree with you in hindsight. Now that and a few other blogs have already run with it I'll do the same. I think it's critical to ensure the truth comes out.

If Terri dies from this recent tube removal, we must all contact him immediately and demand justice for Terri. If a crime was committed, then several people need to go to jail including those who conspired to kill her (and cover it up)... Michael Schiavo, his live-in girlfriend, "Judge" Greer, the hospice staff, the physicians and those politicians and judges who failed to act on her behalf.

Contact information:
Jon R. Thogmartin, M.D., District Chief Medical Examiner
10900 Ulmerton Rd., Largo FL 33778
Telephone #. (727) 582-6800
Fax # (727) 582-6820

papijoe 10:43 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: Terri on Morphine Drip

From Reuters

I don't have it in me to post what I know about what is happening to Terri physically now. I'm glad they have her on morphine.

Schiavo, 41, passed her ninth day without nourishment and Gibbs said she was declining rapidly. "They've begun to give her morphine drip for the pain. And at this point, we would say Terri has passed the point of no return," he told CBS' "Face the Nation."

But the same report parrots the tiresome lie that Terri can't suffer.

Doctors have said Schiavo would live for up to two weeks without the feeding tube. They say patients in her condition appear to feel little or no discomfort when deprived of nutrition and water.

They apparently see no need to reconcile the obvious contradiction.
papijoe 6:15 AM |

Friday, March 25, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Another Dr Cranford Case Proven NOT PVS!

Rather than just update my last one, I thought this deserved its owe post:

Feminists for Life had these stories of other's in Terri's situation. I'll lead off with the one that concerns Dr Cranford:

Dr. Ronald Cranford, the euthanasia advocate who hopes to help Pete Busalacchi take care of Christine when she is brought to Minnesota, had a similar case in 1979. Sgt. David Mack was shot in the line of duty as a policeman, and Cranford diagnosed him as " a persistent vegetative state...never [to] regain cognitive, sapient functioning...never [to] be aware of his condition." Twenty months after the shooting Mack woke up, and eventually regained nearly all his mental ability. When asked by a reporter how he felt, he spelled out on his letterboard, "Speechless!"

So much for Dr Cranford's expertise in diagnosing PVS.

Here is another case Dr Cranford reportedly wants to be involved in:

In a horrible deja vu, another disabled woman at the Center has been selected for the same fate. Twenty-year-old Christine Busalacchi's condition is improving: she waves, smiles, objects to having her teeth brushed, vocalizes to indicate TV preferences, and very much enjoys visits from young men. This is not enough for her father, who has visited her seldom in the past two years (and then sometimes accompanied by TV cameras) and. we are told, stands to inherit $51,000 from her estate. Pete Busalacchi does not have the "clear and convincing evidence" necessary to have her starved in Missouri, so he is trying to have her moved to Minnesota where the standard is less stringent.

The other stories from the site are also enlightening.

Consider the following cases. While Nancy Cruzan was dying, the staff at Missouri Rehabilitation Center continued to insist that she was no vegetable. They had seen her smile at funny stories, cry when a visitor left, and indicate pain with her menstrual periods. She was not living on machines: a feeding tube had been inserted years before only to replace spoon feeding and make her care easier. An activist present during those days of dying commented, "It was like one of those horror movies where everybody in the town knows something, but nobody can get word out to the outside world." Information about Nancy's true condition was persistently blacked out while the staff endured the nightmare of watching her die.


Similar stories recur. Cancer patient Yolanda Blake was hospitalized last November 30 after experiencing severe bleeding. Despite the insistence of her sister and of the friend who held her power of attorney, the hospital refused to leave in a feeding tube or a catheter, and on December 14 the county judge ruled in the hospital's favor that Blake should be allowed to "die with dignity." On December 15 Blake woke up. When asked if she wanted to live, she responded, "Of course I do!"

Richard Routh, 42, was hospitalized with head injuries after a motorcycle accident. He had learned to signal "yes" and "no," could smile and laugh at jokes, when his parents and doctors decided to have him starved. A nurse's aide says that as they stood by the bedside discussing the starvation decision, Routh shook his head "no." Though the coroner's report says he dies of head injuries, he had lost thirty pounds during the hospitalization. The autopsy showed that he had not been given painkillers to ease the pain of starvation.

If time permits I'll try to do another post on a subject that reveals much about our legal and medical establishments: "living" wills.
papijoe 8:54 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: Hemlock and Slow Wasting

I blogged yesterday about the attempt to smear Dr Cheshire's testimony, based solely on the fact that he is a Christian. It's continuing and Sen. Bill Frist is getting the same treatment. Elizabeth Whelan is a Republican and scientific anti-idiotarian. But instead of addressing Dr Cheshire's points in his affidavit, she only has this to say:

As it turns out, Dr. Cheshire is not "renowned" as a neurologist -- his limited publications focus on areas including headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research. Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo, nor did he do neurological tests. Dr. Cheshire is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by "more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists." Everyone is free to be guided by a personal agenda -- and it is clear that Dr. Cheshire has his.

Let's call tripe when tripe is served. All of us are entitled to our own personal views on the Schiavo case, what her fate should be, and who should make decisions for her. But all of us should be united in rejecting politically-generated junk science.

Since Dr Whelan brings up Dr Cheshire's credentials and agenda, let's look at the background of the neurologist who's opinion has been considered most seriously by Judge Greer. From WND

Cranford is a member of the board of directors of the Choice in Dying Society, which promotes doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

He was also a featured speaker at the 1992 national conference of the Hemlock Society. The group recently changed its name to End of Life Choices.

Dr Cranford's bio says that he teachs at the University of Minnesota Medical School. I'm sure it is a fine institution, but if Dr Cheshire's involvement with the Mayo Clinic doesn't get him enough medical prestige to be considered "renowned", then Dr Cranford has no call for this kind of arrogance:

Dr. Ronald Cranford, a neurologist and medical ethicist at the University of Minnesota Medical School who has examined Ms. Schiavo on behalf of the Florida courts and declared her to be irredeemably brain-damaged, said, "I have no idea who this Cheshire is," and added: "He has to be bogus, a pro-life fanatic. You'll not find any credible neurologist or neurosurgeon to get involved at this point and say she's not vegetative."

For what it's worth, UMinn Medical didn't make any of the Top 20 lists I saw, while the Mayo Clinic's teaching program was usually in the top five.

But the glaring inequity of this aspect of the debate is that in articles like the Times and Dr Whelan's, the obvious bias of Dr Cranford is never an issue. His views are treated as mainstream, and I'm getting the terrible sense that they will soon be. This is what he is proposing:

The United States has thousands or tens of thousands of patients in vegetative states; nobody knows for sure exactly how many," he wrote. "But before long, this country will have several million patients with Alzheimer's dementia. The challenges and costs of maintaining vegetative state patients will pale in comparison to the problems presented by Alzheimer's disease."

The answer, he suggested, was physician-assisted suicide.

"So much in medicine today is driving the public towards physician-assisted suicide," he wrote. "Many onlookers are dismayed by doctors' fear of giving families responsibility in these cases; our failure to appreciate that families suffer a great deal too in making decisions; our archaic responses to pain and suffering; our failure to accept death as a reality and an inevitable outcome of life; our inability to be realistic and humane in treating irreversibly ill people. All of this has shaken the public's confidence in the medical profession."

He blamed "right-to-lifers" and "disability groups" for discouraging families from making the choice for euthanasia. He applauded European values that embrace euthanasia.

Despite my issues with the Baby Boomer generation as a whole, I don't take any satisfaction in the irony that the only thing that might stand in the way of the euthanizing of as many as a million of them is the beleaguered band of Christians and pro-life advocates that they fought all their lives to oppose.

I hope to comment further on this today.

Update- Joe Carter at evangelical outpost does a great job pulling apart Dr Whelan's ad hominem towards Dr Cheshire:

Whelan then goes on to attack Dr. Cheshire's status as "renowned" by pointing to his "limited publications" which focus on the areas of "headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research." What she left out was that he has also published articles on, among other topics, Parkinson's, trigeminal neuralgia, hypotensive akathisia, Spinal cord injuries, and cysticercosis. A closer look would have also revealed that out of the fifteen doctors in the neurology department at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Cheshire has published more articles than a third of his colleagues. Does Whelan take the paucity of Pub-Med citations as evidence that the Mayo Clinic is simply full of second-rate slackers?

Whelan does correctly point out that Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo and that he did not perform neurological tests. That is certainly true. In fact, as Dr. Cheshire makes clear, Ms. Shiavo hasn't had a neurological examination in over three years. If Whelan had bothered to actually read Dr. Cheshire's affidavit rather than basing her opinion on press reports she might have noticed that he recommended more testing precisely to avoid the potentially unethical situation of starving to death a woman who may be minimally conscious.
papijoe 7:32 AM |

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Angels Among Us

Hat tip: Zaideh

This fantastic article from Marianne Jennings should be read by every "expert" who has commented on Terri's case:

Our daughter, Claire, has had a feeding tube for 10 years, and my mother is closing in on one year with hers. I am generationally sandwiched between feeding tube patients. Like Terri Schiavo, no one is really sure how much breaks through my daughter's or mother's neurological remnants. Also like Mrs. Schiavo, neither needs a respirator. To the clinical, the three are in a "vegetative state." The inexperienced callously refer to them as clumps of flesh that hover in a puzzling state for inexplicable reasons. "

This is my favorite part, but read the whole thing:

Doctors are almost always wrong. While I have the highest respect for the physicians who have treated our daughter and my mother and will be forever grateful for their selfless efforts and care, I know, and perhaps they do too, that these patients are unique. Doctors are inevitably taken aback at some point by Claire and patients like her who fight for their lives. If I had dug my daughter's grave each time a doctor told me she wouldn't live, I'd be in China by now. Their first death prediction was six months, then it was three years. When Claire turned 10, the good docs called her an outlier and threw in the towel on death predictions. Claire turned 18 two months ago. Doctors read CAT scans, MRIs, and EEGs, and conclude that, clinically, there ain't nothin' there. But doctors are not with these patients 24-7. Our Claire has a perfectly flat EEG. From what I can determine, Terri Schiavo is higher functioning than our Claire. Yet each morning when we touch the bottom of her shirt to prepare for her shower, she closes her eyes in anticipation of that shirt coming over her face. She clinches her teeth if you put a washcloth to her face because washcloths mean a good mouth cleaning and she, like all 3-6-month infants (Claire's developmental age) wants no part of that. She turns her head when you say her name. Claire's smiles come mostly in response to her mother's and her father's voices.

I say a loud amen to her closing statement:

I fear for the clinical callousness of this tube removal. We turn our backs on the closest thing this world has to offer when it comes to angels. This removal is a giant leap backwards as mankind denies its spirituality and harms the helpless. I worry about the precedent for our Claire and my mom, but I fear for us.
papijoe 11:13 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: Affidavit from Another Neurologist says Terri Can Feel Pain

From NRO.

Thanks to for the transcription.

This is the report cited in Jeb Bush's decision to intervene in Terri's case. This report addresses all of the arguments I've seen about Terri's alleged PVS and then some:

Based on my review of extensive medical records documenting Terri’s care over the years, on my personal observations of Terri, and on my observations of Terri’s responses in the many hours of videotapes taken in 2002, she demonstrates a number of behaviors that I believe case a reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS.
Her behavior is frequently context-specific. For example, her facial expression brightens and she smiles in response to the voice of familiar persons such as her parents or her nurse. Her agitation subsides and her facial demeanor soften when quiet music is played. When jubilant piano music is played, her face brightens, she lifts her eyebrows, smiles, and even laughs. Her lateral gaze toward the tape player is sustained for many minutes. Several times I witnessed Terri briefly, albeit inconsistently, laugh in response to a humorous comment someone in the room had made. I did not see her laugh in the absence of someone else’s laughter.
Although she does not seem to track or follow visual objects consistently or for long periods of time, she does fixate her gaze on colorful objects or human faces for some 15 seconds at a time and occasionally follow with her eyes at least briefly as these objects move from side to side. When I first walked into her room, she immediately turned her head toward me and looked directly at my face. There was a look of curiosity or expectation in her express, and she maintained eye contact for about half a minute. Later, when she again looked at me, she brought her lips together as if to pronounce the letter "O", and although for a moment it appeared that she might be making an intentional effort to speak, her fade then fell blank, and no words came out.
Although I did not hear Terri utter distinct words, she demonstrates emotional expressivity by her use of single syllable vocalizations such as "ah," making cooing sounds, or by expressing guttural sounds of annoyance or moaning appropriate to the context of the situation. The context-specific range and variability of her vocalizations suggest at least a reasonable probability of the processing of emotional thought within her brain. There have been reports of Terri rarely using actual words specific to her situational context. The July 25, 2003 affidavit of speech pathologist Sara Green Mele, MS, on page 6, reads, "The records of Mediplex reflect the fact that she has said ‘stop’ in apparent response to a medical procedure being done to her." The Adult Protective Services team has been unable to retrieve those original medical records I this instance.
Although Terri has not consistently followed commands there appear to be some notable exceptions. In the taped examination by Dr. Hammesfahr from 2002, when asked to close her eyes she began to blink repeatedly. Although it was unclear whether she squeezed her grip when asked, she did appear to raise her right leg four times in succession each time she was asked to do so. Rehabilitation notes from 1991 indicated that she tracked inconsistently, and although did not develop a yes/no communication system, did follow some commands inconsistently and demonstrated good eye contact of family members.
There is a remarkable moment in the videotape of the September 3, 2002 examination by Dr. Hammesfahr that seemed to go unnoticed at the time. At 2:44 p.m., Dr. Hammesfahr had just turned Terri onto her right side to examine her back with a painful sharp stimulus (a sharp piece of wood), to which Terri had responded with signs of discomfort. Well after he ceased applying the stimulus and had returned Terri to a comfortable position, he says to her parents, "So, we’re going to have to roll her over ...," Immediately Terri cries. She vocalizes a crying sound, "Ugh, ha, ha, ha," presses her eyebrows together, and sadly grimaces. It is important to note that, at that moment, no one is touching Terri or causing actual pain. Rather, she appears to comprehend the meaning of Dr. Hammesfahr’s comment and signals her anticipation of pain. This response suggests some degree of language processing and interpretation at the level of the cerebral cortex. It also suggest that she may be aware of pain beyond what could be explained by simple reflex withdrawal.
According to the definition of PVS published by the American Academy of Neurology, "persistent vegetative state patients do not have the capacity to experience pain or suffering. Pain and suffering are attributed of consciousness requiring cerebral cortical functioning, and patients who are permanently and completely unconscious cannot experience these symptoms." And yet, in my review of Terri’s medical records, pain issues keep surfacing. The nurses at Woodside Hospice told us that she often has pain with menstrual cramps. Menstrual flow is associated with agitation, repeated or sustained moaning, facial grimacing, limb posturing, and facial flushing, all of which subside once she is given ibuprofen. Some of the records document moaning, crying, and other painful behavior in the setting of urinary tract infections.

If Terri is consciously aware of pain, and therefore is capable of suffering, then her diagnosis of PVS may be tragically mistaken.

To enter the room of Terri Schiavo is nothing like entering the room of a patient who is comatose or brain-dead or in some neurological sense no longer there. Although Terri did not demonstrate during our 90 minutes visit compelling evidence of verbalization, conscious awareness, or volitional behavior, yet the visitor has the distinct sense of the presence of a living human being who seems at some level to be aware of some things around her.

As I looked at Terri, and she gazed directly back at me, I asked myself whether, if I were her attending physician, I could in good conscience withdraw her feeding and hydration. No, I could not. I could not withdraw life support if I were asked. I could not withhold life-sustaining nutrition and hydration from this beautiful lady whose face brightens in the presence of others.

In summary, Terri Schiavo demonstrates behaviors in a variety of cognitive domains that call into question the previous neurological diagnosis of persistent vegetative state. Specifically, she has demonstrated behaviors that are context-specific, sustained, and indicative of cerebral cortical processing that, upon careful neurological consideration, would not be expected in a persistent vegetative state.

Based on this evidence, I believe that, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there is a greater likelihood that Terri is in a minimally conscious state than a persistent vegetative state. This distinction makes an enormous difference in making ethical decisions on Terri’s behalf. If Terri is sufficiently aware of her surroundings that she can feel pleasure and suffer, if she is capable of understanding to some degree how she is being treated, then in my judgment it would be wrong to bring about her death by withdrawing food and water.

Thank you Dr Cheshire. If only more of your colleagues had your integrity.

The New York Times is already trying to smear Dr Cheshire because he is a Christian using Terri's old nemesis Dr Cranford and MSNBC pundit Arthur Caplan who has already called for Terri's death:

Mr. Bush called Dr. Cheshire a "renowned neurologist," but he is not widely known in the neurology or bioethics fields. Asked about him, Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, replied, "Who?"


Dr. Ronald Cranford, a neurologist and medical ethicist at the University of Minnesota Medical School who has examined Ms. Schiavo on behalf of the Florida courts and declared her to be irredeemably brain-damaged, said, "I have no idea who this Cheshire is," and added: "He has to be bogus, a pro-life fanatic. You'll not find any credible neurologist or neurosurgeon to get involved at this point and say she's not vegetative."

Predictably the Times doesn't mention that Dr Cranford is a "right to die" proponent that has advocated euthanizing the million or so baby boomers that are expected to suffer from Alzheimer's over the next 20 years.
papijoe 8:24 AM |

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Shame on the New England Journal of Medicine

The NEJM posted this commentary on the Terri Schiavo case. Thanks to evolving transhumanist murbella.

I won't violate their IP by posting the link to the PDF which you are free to download yourself. Dr Quill decries the efforts to keep Terry alive and leads off with the PVS arguement (despite the fact she has never received an MRI or PET which would be standard now to confirm that diagnosis). He proves to be as unaware of the salient facts of the case as most of the pundits calling for Terri's death. But what is shocking is that the NEJM is lending it's credibility as an objective source of medical information to a doctor who specializes in Right to Die advocacy and is paid to help patients die. I have no issues with Palliative Care or "death with dignity" as concepts themselves. But Dr Quill clearly has an agenda and a conflict of interest in commenting on Terri's case.

First The Lancet and now NEJM...
papijoe 11:57 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: The Law is an Ass

After last night's ruling, I could only explain it by admitting that the judiciary has become void of any moral value. But after reading two NRO articles on Cao's Blog this morning I also realized that our legal system operates not only in a moral vacuum, but has also divorced itself from facts as well. From Rev. Robert Johansen's article:

Given the difficulty of diagnosing PVS, the high rate of error, the obvious bias of the doctor whose judgment forms the basis of the judge’s ruling that Terri is PVS, and the growing outcry from the neurological community, how is it that Judge Greer’s ruling has been sustained? The answer is that in our legal system, once a judge has ruled on a matter of fact, it is very difficult to revisit such a ruling. The lawyers’ rule of thumb is that trial courts hear and rule on questions of fact, and appellate courts rule on questions of law; it’s unusual for an appellate court to overturn a lower court’s ruling because of an issue of fact.

That’s why, at every turn in this case, the Schindlers have had to try to undo the faulty rulings of fact previously issued by Judge Greer. They’ve had to go back before Judge Greer himself and try to convince him that he was wrong, and should undo his own rulings. Judge Greer has proven unwilling to do so. The higher courts, unwilling to overturn a trial judge’s rulings of fact, have no interest in granting new hearings. Michael Schiavo and George Felos have no interest in revisiting Terri’s diagnosis, as that ruling provides the whole legal basis of their ability to end her life. Dr. Cranford has no interest in seeing his own diagnosis called into question. Dr. Bell lamented that at this point, "medical realities are no longer governing this case." He added that it seemed to him that medical issues concerning the care of the patient had been subsumed by legal issues. In our courts, he added, "once a decision is made they don't want additional information."

The whole history of Terri’s case over the past few years can be summed up as the efforts of the Schindlers, and those who value Terri’s life, to try to introduce additional information before the courts and other authorities. Some of this information consists of facts and arguments that were ignored or dismissed without adequate consideration; some has been the result of advances in the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries over the last five years. On the side of Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer, their efforts have consisted almost entirely in trying to prevent any new information from being presented or considered.

The legal system’s willful blindness to facts cannot succeed forever. The truth has a way of coming out. But will it do so in time to save Terri Schiavo? Dr. Morin said to me, towards the end of our conversation, that “the law can find a way to do the right thing if it wants to.” The problem so far is that those who have the power to do the right thing seem to have no desire or inclination to do so.

The other fact his piece doesn't treat is the MSM filtering the same facts to prevent massive public outcry. But a sizable minority of the public is predisposed against Terri because of the Christian Right and anti-abortion forces that are her stauchest defenders. I wish I was as optimistic as Rev Johnson is about the truth coming out in this environment.

Also read excerpts for Mark Levin's Men in Black for more background on "judicial legislation".
papijoe 7:25 AM |

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: More Conflict of Interest in the Schiavo Case

From Empire Journal

Here's another connection of one of the board members of the Suncoast Hospice to the Schiavo case that I previously missed:

Testimony on Florida's Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act (HB 701) will be heard Wednesday by the Health Care Regulation Committee of the Florida House of Representatives.

The bill, if adopted, would help Terri Schiavo, one of the state's most vulnerable adults, and thousands of other disabled Floridians...

... {Committee Member and Republican State Rep) Bilirakis, however, is a member of the board of directors of Hospice of Florida Suncoast, the non-profit organization which operates the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park where Terri Schiavo resides.

Bilirakis was instrumental in the passage of the 1999 amendment which amended Section 765 of Florida Statutes to change the definition of "life prolonging procedures" to add "including artifically provided sustenance and hydration which sustains, restores or supplants a spntaneous vital function.

Committee member Bilikaris was also a campaign contributor to Judge George W. Greer who has issued the death order for the removal of the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, voted to change the law to make good and water "artificial" life support. Were it not for this change in law, helped to be promulgated by Bilikaris, the assisted feeding tube of Terri Schiavo would not be removed by court order as it would not have constituted artificial life support. The bill had been sponsored by Rep. Nancy Argenziano, Citrus County, and co-sponsored by Heyman, Sobel, Reddick, Fiorentino, Bilirakis, Littlefield, Kosmas, Bitner, Jacobs, Levine and Bloom.

Discussion points in favor of the proposed HB 701 include that nutrition and hydration are basic requirements of life. Withholding them is directly forcing the death of anyone who is not already at the point of imminent death.

The incestuousness of this case is getting absurd.

The EJ also has a great post on potential violations of hospice law and Medicare and Medicaid rules by Suncoast. Apparently their site was hacked and some Schiavo posts were deleted, but fortunately not lost. Please visit Empire Journal and show your support for this fine site that is posting some crucial information.

Coincidently Discarded Lies was attacked yesterday as well.
papijoe 12:59 PM |

Blogburst for Terri: The Roots of the Nazi Euthanasia Program


In 1920 was published a book titled The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life, by Alfred Hoche, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Freiburg, and Karl Binding, a professor of law from the University of Leipzig. They argued in their book that patients who ask for "death assistance" should, under very carefully controlled conditions, be able to obtain it from a physician. The conditions were spelled out, and included the submission of the request to a panel of three experts, the right of the patient to withdraw his request at any time, and the legal protection of the physicians who would help him terminate his life. Binding and Hoche explained how death assistance was congruent with the highest medical ethics and was essentially a compassionate solution to a painful problem.

Death assistance, according to the authors, was not to be limited to those who were able or even willing to ask for it. They would have such mercy extended as well to "empty shells of human beings" such as those with brain damage, some psychiatric conditions, and mental retardation, if by scientific criteria the "impossibility of improvement of a mentally dead person" could be proven. The benefits to society would be great, they said, as money previously devoted to the care of "meaningless life" would be channeled to those who most needed it, the socially and physically fit. Germans needed only to learn to evaluate the relative value of life in different individuals.

An opinion poll conducted in 1920 revealed that 73% of the parents and guardians of severely disabled children surveyed would approve of allowing physicians to end the lives of disabled children such as their own. Newspapers, journal articles, and movies joined in shaping the opinion of the German public. The Ministry of Justice described the proposal as one that would make it "possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interests of true humanity" (reported in the N.Y. Times, 10/8/33, p. 1, col. 2). And the savings would redound to the German people if money was no longer thrown away on the disabled, the incurable, and "those on the threshold of old age."

A 1936 novel written by Helmut Unger, M.D., further assisted the German people in accepting the unthinkable. Dr. Unger told the story of a physician whose wife was disabled by multiple sclerosis. She asks him to help her die, and he complies. At his trial he pleads with the jurors to understand his honorable motive: "Would you, if you were a cripple, want to vegetate forever?" The jury acquit him in the novel. The book was subsequently made into a movie which, according to research by the SS Security Service, was "favorably received and discussed," even though some Germans were concerned about possible abuses.

With the public now assenting, the question turned from "whether" to "by whom" and "under what circumstances."

The first known case of the application of this now-acceptable proposal concerned "Baby Knauer." The child's father requested of Adolph Hitler himself that his son be allowed death because he was blind, retarded, and missing an arm and a leg. Surely, in his condition, he would be better off dead. Hitler turned the case over to his personal physician, Karl Brandt, and in 1938 the request was granted.

Over the next few months, a committee set out to establish practical means by which such "mercy deaths" could be granted to other children who had no prospect for meaningful life. The hospital at Eglfing-Haar, under the direction of Hermann Pfannmuller, M.D., slowly starved many of the disabled children in its care until they died of "natural causes." Other institutions followed suit, some depriving its small patients of heat rather than food. Medical personnel who were uncomfortable with what they were asked to do were told this was not killing: they were simply withholding treatment and "letting nature take its course."

Over time Pfannmuller set up Hungerhauser (starvation houses) for the elderly. By the end of 1941, euthanasia was simply "normal hospital routine." [Empasis mine]

In the meantime, no law had been passed permitting euthanasia. Rather, at the end of 1939, Hitler signed this letter:

"Reichleader Bouhler and Dr. Med. Brandt are responsibly commissioned to extend the authority of physicians to be designated by name so that a mercy death may be granted to patients who, according to human judgment, are incurably ill according to the most critical evaluation of the state of their disease."

Interestingly, physicians were not ordered to participate, but merely permitted to if they so wished. It was to be a private matter between the doctor and his patient (or the family if the patient was unable to speak for himself).
papijoe 8:42 AM |

Blogburst for Terri: Good Day for a Miracle

Judge Whittenmore has refused to order Terri's tube re-inserted. Remember all those tactics the MSM employed during the election like skewed polls? ABC ran a poll on Sunday that showed the majority opposing the action of the Congress.

As Ed at Captain's Quarter's notes, the wording of the poll was again misrepresenting Terri's condition.

Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her husband and her parents disagree about whether she would have wanted to be kept alive. Florida courts have sided with the husband and her feeding tube was removed on Friday.

No where in the questionnaire did it state what time on Sunday the poll was conducted, but obviously most evangelicals are involved in church related activities well into the afternoon. And considering the way the poll is broken down, the sampling of 500 is far from scientific. So the MSM is fashioning a stick with which to beat Terri's conservative supporters in Congress.

Pray without ceasing for Terri. God gives us the opportunity to do the right thing ourselves, but regardless of what we do He is still in charge. We still have to do everything we can to save Terri, but it's apparent that if she is spared the horrible fate that our world has condemned her to it won't be due to our own strength.
papijoe 7:30 AM |

Monday, March 21, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Empathy and Narcissism

In my last post I made brief reference to the fact that while some people have an instant recognition upon seeing the videos of Terri that she is not in a persistent vegetative state, others don't.

I don't think this is just subjectivity. It's the same mindset that used to claim that babies don't really smile, it's just gas. The key difference in response is partly in how adept a person is in picking up non-verbal communication. But many don't get past their superficial impression of Terri. This article in WorldNetDaily from Barbara Simpson really nails it:

Who is [Terri Schaivo]? Funny you should ask. If it's only now you're hearing about her – and it's not because her story hasn't deserved telling. It's because until now, mainstream media – and indeed, most media, of whatever political stripe – have ignored Terri.

Her story is tough – one that media, especially television, tend to ignore. The cameras want people who are sympathetic. They can't empathize with someone who is "funny looking" and can't take care of herself.

You'd be "funny looking" if you suffered a mysterious injury that left you brain-damaged and unable to speak or swallow.

You'd be "funny looking" if you spent the last 15 years virtually a prisoner of the person you married, who promised one day long ago to love and honor you in sickness and in health and to care for you forever.

Many believe Terri's husband tried to strangle her that night 15 years ago. Many believe that's why Michael Schiavo won't divorce her, won't allow her rehabilitative therapy, wants her dead and has ordered immediate cremation.

You'd be "funny looking" if that person refused you medical treatment, medical tests, dental care, physical therapy, open windows, walks outside, visits from your parents and other family members and friends, free practice of your religion and reception of the sacraments of your faith.

Terri Schiavo is that person and she is "funny looking" but only if you regard her infirmity as a measure of her humanity. I don't, but many do. I've heard from them. They look at Terri, see she's disabled and on that basis decide she'd be better off dead. "Who would want to live that way?" they harrumph. "I wouldn't."

Well, OK. But this isn't about you. It's about Terri and her family members who love her and want to care for her, regardless of her infirmity or how she looks

The narcissistic spirit of our culture pervades all of us, but it finds it's center of gravity in the Left. It's not a random alignment that had George Felos calling on their leaders Friday night to block the legislation to save Terri and their obedient response in preventing swift passage of the bill. That's why so few bloggers on left are coming to her aide.

But this denial of Terri's humanity and ability to feel and love isn't the only response of those who would see her die. While representing a smaller constituency, there is also a kind of sick project upon Terri by some, and this is seen nowhere better that Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos. After reading some excerpts from his book Litigation as Spiritual Practice, I'm, convinced that Felos is projecting his rage over his broken marriages on the subject of the right-to-die cases that he has taken on since his first divorce. Here is a sampling of his own insights to his psyche:

About the Jews, George Felos wrote, "The Jewish people, long ago in their collective consciousness, agreed to play the role of the lamb whose slaughter was necessary to shock humanity into a new moral consciousness. Their sacrifice saved humanity at the brink of extinction and propelled us into a new age." (pg 240)

Felos further wrote, "If our minds can conceive of an uplifting Holocaust, can it be so difficult to look another way at the slights and injuries and abuses we perceive were inflicted upon us?" (pg 240)

Describing the period he was separated from his ex-wife, "that weekend I experienced rage. Savage, unadulterated, and murderous rage." (pg 6)

Felos wrote about his ex-wife, "To her, I seemed unattractive, sexually unexciting, balding, boring, and just not enough fun to be with....she didn't need me anymore. For her, marriage to me inflicted a fate worse than death. She admitted that for the past year or so she had wished for my death, and whenever I flew hoped the plane would crash." (pg 7)

About his anger towards his ex-wife, "I was on fire, fueled by thoughts of bludgeoning and tearing her apart." (pg 23)

Describing the period he was recuperating from his divorce, "it consisted mostly of dreams of being tormented in some inferno." (pg 27)

"Mrs Browning, do you want to die? Do you want to die? - I nearly shouted as I continued to peer into her pools of strikingly beautiful but incognizant blue. It felt so eerie." (pg 63)

"Whatever your opinion about tube feeding, the hard fact was it now stood between Mrs. Browning and her death." (pg 64)

About Mrs. Estelle Browning "...I carried with me the resolute determination to sever the artificial cord that bound Estelle Browning to this earthly realm. Her agonized cry for release ran though my mind over and over again, and I felt our SPIRITUAL BOND." (pg 76)

While on a plane trip, Felos thought "I wonder what it would be like to die right now?" (pg 181)

Felos felt that God told him, "You are more powerful than you realize." (pg 182)

About the Estelle Browning case, "I still got a kick that evening seeing myself on the TV news, notwithstanding my frequently displayed countenance in the media of late."

I'd be interested in finding out how many of the other eight patients involved in Felos' right to die crusade were women besides Terri and Mrs Browning.

I don't know any other ways to make people more empathetic toward Terri. She's dehydrating and starving right now as you read this. At this point, you either get it or you don't.
papijoe 7:48 AM |

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: The Big Lie

This has been covered ad nauseum in the blogosphere, but the MSM, including Fox, still hasn't gotten it. It's infuriating to see indignant pundits condemning the "interference" of the legislatures of Florida and the Congress, all based on the assumption that Terri is in a "persistant vegitative state".

I haven't seen one journalist challenge these "experts" to define PVS, and of course, they haven't done their homework themselves. But lets go over it one more time:

A persistent vegetative state, which sometimes follows a coma, refers to a condition in which individuals have lost cognitive neurological function and awareness of the environment but retain noncognitive function and a perserved [sic?]sleep-wake cycle.

I've seen a number of people who were in favor of "letting Terri die" do a complete 180 after seeing the videos, because it was obvious that Terri was reacting to her environment. Any parent of a pre-verbal child immediately picks up on the body language and sees Terri as responding to her mother's loving attention.

Salespersons like myself and those trained in other forms of interrogation will note evidence of cognition and responsiveness in Terri's eye movements. But this recognition is instinctual to certain people, but apparently not to others. I may post on that later

We have to attack this lie and there is little time left.

Update Blogicus has a great post on the myth of Terri's PVS

To suit their own purposes, the "Death Crowd" has labeled Terri Schiavo as being in a persistent vegetative state(PVS), a condition that even qualified medical experts disagree on as to what it is and how it should be determined; some medical dictionaries don't even include the phrase. While some standards have been proposed, they aren't accepted by the entire medical community, and methods and time-frame for diagnostic testing are widely disputed.

But even though PVS requires considerable skill to diagnose, requiring assessment over a period of time; diagnosis cannot be made, even by the most experienced clinician, from a bedside assessment. Accurate diagnosis is possible but requires the skills of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the management of people with complex disabilities. Recognition of awareness is essential if an optimal quality of life is to be achieved and to avoid inappropriate approaches to the courts for a declaration for withdrawal of tube feeding.

Of course none of this has ever been done for Terri Schiavo, yet....

• Out of 40 patients diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, 17 (43%) were later found to be alert, aware, and often able to express a simple wish. The study is one of the largest, most sustained analyses of severely disabled people presumed to be incapable of conscious thinking, communication, or awareness of their surroundings. The author, London neurologist Dr. Keith Andrews, said, "It is disturbing to think that some patients who were aware had for several years been treated as being vegetative.

• Studies show PVS patients feel pain — indeed, a Univ. of Mich. neurologist, in one of the most complete studies, concluded that, when food and fluids are withdrawn [to impose death], the patient should be sedated.

• A study of 84 patients with a "firm diagnosis" of PVS found that 41% regained consciousness by six months, 52% by three years. These statistics certainly discredit the terms "persistent" and "permanent".

Some patients are not actually in PVS, but are "locked-in." They may be mute and immobile but mentally alert and able to communicate by blinking or through aids such as computers — if someone gives them that opportunity. Others are severely physically disabled, which greatly impairs their ability to communicate. Of course in Terri's case, all of this has been denied for her by her husband who lives with another women and has two children by her.

In practice, the terms of PVS have become so elastic as to categorize Christine Busalacchi, a young Missouri woman, as PVS — even though she said "Hi" to a doctor, made sounds to indicate which soap opera she wanted to watch, pushed buttons on a cassette recorder to play tapes and recognized her father on TV. (Hopefully, she never understood that he was seeking to have her legally killed by dehydration and starvation.) But of course, Terri Schiavo has never been given this opportunity and was even denied the repair of her wheelchair by this husband(sic) so she could be taken to the community room and outside sunlight, both of which would have been standard in any rehabilitation unit in America, but not for Terri!

And just what is Terri capable of doing now?

Update - Here's a story of a supposedly PVS patient who was worse off than Terri and has made an almost full recovery. The moral of this tale is that a spouse who loves you is worth a whole passel of doctors.
papijoe 3:18 PM |

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: Parched

"Daddy, can I have some water? I'm thirsty!"

My four year-old has discovered this classic bedtime stall. In order to avoid accidents during the night she is on strict fluid rationing after dinner. But we always give her a little before bed if she asks for it. What if she's really thirsty?

The air is extremely dry here in the winter, so we use humidifiers in all the rooms. Last night we discoverd the one in our room wasn't working. I checked the plug and everything else I could think of, but the light wasn't coming on. So we just went to bed.

The newborn is still in our room. I woked up several times last nighe with my throat and the inside of my mouth absolutely dessicated. The baby was clearly experiencing the same thing as she cried several times to be nursed. No matter how much water I drank, an hour later I was awake again with my mouth feeling like old suede and the same unquenchable thirst.

Oddly enough, this morning the humidifier seemed to be working perfectly.
papijoe 4:20 PM |

Last Visit Narrative

From Empire Journal, with thanks to the indispensable Hyscience (Richard, you're a mensch)-ATTORNEYS LAST VISIT WITH TERRI SCHIAVO
Last Visit Narrative

by Attorney Barbara Weller

When Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed at 1:45 p.m. on March 18, 2005, I was one of the most surprised people on the planet. I had been visiting Terri throughout the morning with her family and her priest. As part of the legal team working throughout the previous days and nights to save Terri from a horrific fate, I was very hopeful. Although the state judicial system had obviously failed Terri by not protecting her life, I knew other forces were still at work. I fully expected the federal courts would step in to reverse this injustice, just as they might for a prisoner unjustly set for execution—although by much more humane means than Terri would be executed. Barring that, I was certain that sometime around noon, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services would come to the Woodside Hospice facility in Pinellas Park and take Terri into protective custody. Or that federal marshals would arrive from Washington D.C, where the Congress was working furiously to try to save Terri, and would stand guard at her door to prevent any medical personnel from entering her room to remove the tube that was providing her nutrition and hydration.

Finally, I was sure if nothing else was working, that at 12:59,just before the hour scheduled for Terri’s gruesome execution to begin, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would at least issue a 60-day reprieve for the legislative bodies to complete the work they were attempting to do to save Terri’s life and to make sure that no other vulnerable adults could be sentenced to starve to death in America. I had done the legal research weeks before and was fully convinced that Gov. Bush had the power, under our co-equal branches of government, to issue a reprieve in the face of a judicial death sentence intended to lead to the starvation and dehydration of an innocent woman when scores of doctors and neurologists were saying she could be helped.

All morning long, as I was in the room with Terri and her family, we were telling her that help was on the way. Terri was in good spirits that morning. The mood in her room was jovial, particularly around noontime, as we knew Congressional attorneys were on the scene and many were working hard to save Terri’s life. For most of that time, I was visiting and talking with Terri along with Terri’s sister Suzanne Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and Terri’s aunt, who was visiting from New York to help provide support for the family. A female Pinellas Park police office was stationed at the door outside Terri’s room.

Terri was sitting up in her lounge chair, dressed and looking alert and well. Her feeding tube had been plugged in around 11 a.m. and we all felt good that she was still being fed. Suzanne and I were talking, joking, and laughing with Terri, telling her she was going to go to Washington D.C. to testify before Congress, which meant that finally Terri’s husband Michael would be required to fix her wheelchair. After that Suzanne could take Terri to the mall shopping and could wheel her outdoors every day to feel the wind and sunshine on her face, something she has not been able to do for more than five years.

At one point, I noticed Terri’s window blinds were pulled down. I went to the window to raise them so Terri could look at the beautiful garden outside her window and see the sun after several days of rain. As sunlight came into the room, Terri’s eyes widened and she was obviously very pleased. At another point, Suzanne and I told Terri she needed to suck in all the food she could because she might not be getting anything for a few days. During that time, Mary Schindler, Terri’s mother, joined us for a bit, and we noticed there were bubbles in Terri’s feeding tube. We joked that we didn’t want her to begin burping, and called the nurses to fix the feeding tube, which they did. Terri’s mother did not come back into the room. This was a very difficult day for Bob and Mary Schindler. I suspect they were less hopeful all along than I was, having lived through Terri’s last two feeding tube removals.

Suzanne and I continued to talk and joke with Terri for probably an hour or more. At one point Suzanne called Terri the bionic woman and I heard Terri laugh out loud heartily for the first time since I have been visiting with her. She laughed so hard that for the first time I noticed the dimples in her cheeks.

The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was sitting on Terri’s bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands. I said to her, “Terri if you could only say ‘I want to live’ this whole thing could be over today.” I begged her to try very hard to say, “I want to live.” To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri’s eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, “Ahhhhhhh.” Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, “Waaaaaaaa.” She yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and the female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri’s door, clearly heard her. At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very frustrated and began to cry. I was horrified that I was obviously causing Terri so much anguish. Suzanne and I began to stroke Terri’s face and hair to comfort her. I told Terri I was very sorry. It had not been my intention to upset her so much. Suzanne and I assured Terri that her efforts were much appreciated and that she did not need to try to say anything more. I promised Terri I would tell the world that she had tried to say, ”I want to live.”

Suzanne and I continued to visit and talk with Terri, along with other family members who came and went in the room, until about 2:00 p.m. when we were all told to leave after Judge Greer denied yet another motion for stay and ordered the removal of the feeding tube to proceed. As we left the room, the female police officer outside the door was valiantly attempting to keep from crying.

Just as Terri’s husband Michael has told the world he must keep an alleged promise to kill Terri, a promise remembered a million dollars and nearly a decade after the fact; I must keep my promise to Terri immediately. Time is running out for her. I went out to the banks of cameras outside the hospice facility and told the story immediately. Now I must also tell the story in writing for the world to hear. It may be the last effective thing I can do to try to keep Terri alive so she can get the testing, therapy, and rehabilitative help she so desperately needs before it is too late.

About four in the afternoon, several hours after the feeding tube was removed, I returned to Terri’s room. By that time she was alone except for a male police officer now standing inside the door. When I entered the room and began to speak to her, Terri started to cry and tried to speak to me immediately. It was one of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. Terri was looking very melancholy at that point and I had the sense she was very upset that we had told her things were going to get better, but instead, they were obviously getting worse. I had previously had the same feeling when my own daughter was a baby who was hospitalized and was crying and looking to me to rescue her from her hospital crib, something I could not do. While I was in the room with Terri for the next half hour or so, several other friends came to visit and I did a few press interviews sitting right next to Terri. I again raised her window shade, which had again been pulled down, so Terri could at least see the garden and the sunshine from her lounge chair. I also turned the radio on in her room before I left so that when she was alone, she would at least have some music for comfort.

Just before I left the room, I leaned over Terri and spoke right into her ear. I told her I was very sorry I had not been able to stop the feeding tube from being taken out and I was very sorry I had to leave her alone. But I reminded her that Jesus would stay right by her side even when no one else was there with her. When I mentioned Jesus’ Name, Terri again laughed out loud. She became very agitated and began loudly trying to speak to me again. As Terri continued to laugh and try to speak, I quietly prayed in her ear, kissed her, placed her in Jesus’ care, and left the room.

Terri is alone now. As I write this last visit narrative, it is five in the morning of March 19. Terri has been without food and water for nearly 17 hours. I’m sure she is beginning at least become thirsty, if not hungry. And I am left to wonder how many other people care.
ayahuasca vine 3:30 PM |

Senate will convene to try saving Terri's life today

Hyscience: Senate to Convene at 5pm Saturday
The US Senate will convene in a special session on Saturday evening at 5:00 to consider passage of the Incapacitated Persons Protection Act.
ayahuasca vine 3:27 PM |

Friday, March 18, 2005

Tom DeLay: Terri will not be forsaken

About 30 minutes ago, Tom DeLay said: 'Terri Schiavo Will Not Be Forsaken'. I'll hold him to that. Supposedly the House is going to work all weekend to keep her alive.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Friday that Congress will not give up its efforts to save the life of Terri Schindler Schiavo.

"This is not over. We haven't stopped working on it. We will fight for Terri's life and spend all the time necessary to do that," DeLay (R-Texas) said. "So, to friends, family and millions of people praying around the world this Palm Sunday weekend don't be afraid. Terri Schiavo will not be forsaken.""

Terri's gastrostomy (nutrition and hydration tube) was scheduled to be removed under court order at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the House Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas Friday morning to stop that from happening. Pinellas Circuit Court Chief Judge David Demers temporarily blocked the removal of the tube, but Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit Judge George Greer ordered doctors to go ahead with the removal a short time later.

"That act of barbarism can be and must be prevented," DeLay said.

The Texas Republican blamed three Senate Democrats for the failure to pass the House version of the Incapacitated Persons Protection Act (H.R. 1151) earlier Friday.

"Those senators responsible for blocking our bill yesterday afternoon - Senator (Barbara) Boxer (D-Calif.), Senator (Ron) Wyden (D-Ore.) and Senator (Carl) Levin (D-Mich.) - have put Mrs. Schiavo's life at risk to prove a point; an unprecedented profile of cowardice," DeLay said.

"The American people are not interested in squabbles between Republicans and Democrats and between the House and the Senate," DeLay said. "They care and we care about saving Terri Schiavo's life. The House bill will do that."

Wyden defended his opposition to the legislation on the Senate floor.

"I am troubled at the prospect of setting a precedent that is going to have the Congress, in effect, playing medical czar in case after case," Wyden explained, "because, colleagues, there will be thousands of cases just like this."

But DeLay agreed with more than a dozen medical professionals - both independent and those retained by Terri's family - who believe that Terri is not in a 'Persistent Vegetative State' as declared by Judge Greer.

"Terri Schiavo is alive. She's not, 'just barely alive.' She's not, 'being kept alive.' She is as alive as you and I," DeLay said, "and, as such, we have a moral obligation to protect and defend her from the fate premeditated by the Florida courts."

The House majority leader also urged the Florida state Legislature to again intervene in the case.

"That's where the real answer comes from," DeLay said. Florida lawmakers failed Thursday to agree on new legislation to block the removal of the feeding tube, but DeLay promised that the House would continue to work through the weekend to prevent the court from denying Terri food and fluids.
Why can't Democrats be on the right side of anything?
ayahuasca vine 4:03 PM |

Removing her tube was barbaric and painful; it could have been capped











ayahuasca vine 3:16 PM |

Sherri: Terri speaks

Straight Up with Sherri
According to Sherri's sources "Terri Schiavo speaks!"
When the Federal Marshal appeared at the hospice to serve subpoenas, they were accompanied by local police. In serving Terri, she was asked twice, "Do you want to live?" Twice, she responded, "Yes".

Ironically, the policemen outside the hospice reported that she had said, "No". Is there a coverup? Does she speak? There is more to follow.

Sherri called me while intransit to Florida on I-75, begging me to put this up, now.

Right Wing Nut Job
ayahuasca vine 3:16 PM |

The tube is out

Tube is out: Michaels common law wife says he is very distraught - poor Michael

Jodie Centonze, according to Bay News 9, informed the media that Terri's tube has been removed. Centonze is Michael Schiavo's fiancé. The Schindler family was forced to leave when this took place.

According to Michael's fiancé, he is very distraught.
ayahuasca vine 3:12 PM |

Terri told what is about to happen to her, cries

via Hyscience
Terri told what is happening: Terri cried

Federal representatives served subpoenas on the Hospice house earlier today, citing intent to have Terri Schiavo appear before Congress on March 28, 2005. Judge Greer has ordered that the subpoenas wouldn't be entertained and that Terri's feeding tube would be IMMEDIATELY removed.

It is unclear if this has happened yet or not.

Attorney Barbara Weller was with Terri earlier today. She told the media that, during her visit with Terri, she explained to her what was happening. According to Weller, Terri began to cry and could not be quieted. She tried to coach Terri to say "Let me live" but she simply was having too much difficulty.

Congress is reported by local news to still hold be holding hearings on this matter. It is unclear at this stage who will win this tug of war - the United States or a probate judge from Clearwater. All that is known is that an innocent life is in the balance.

If you can be at Hospice, now is the time.
ayahuasca vine 3:01 PM |

Greer: a history of killing helpless women

Nausea alert: NYT gives Greer a wet kiss
Quiet judge persists in Schiavo maelstrom (a thimbleful of cognac to zorkie for this one). If you can read it all the way through without vomiting, good for you.
One of the lowest points in Greer's career as a judge came in 1998, when he denied an injunction for a wife seeking protection from her husband. He note d that the woman had not liste d any acts of violence by the man.

Days later, the husband stabbed her to death.

Greer said he followed the law, and the woman's co-workers protested outside the courthouse.

"As a judge, there's always the fear that you're going to miss something and somebody is going to get hurt," Greer said. "It happens in all cases. When you make those kind of decisions, there's very little you can do to be 100 percent certain because you never have 100 percent of the facts."
That wasn't low enough for him, though, he had to go lower. Allowing a woman to be killed through inaction wasn't enough; he now wants to actively order one killed.
ayahuasca vine 3:01 PM |

Greer: starve Terri now

My Way News
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) - The presiding judge in the case of Terri Schiavo ruled Friday that the feeding tube keeping the brain-damaged woman alive can be removed despite efforts by congressional Republicans to have her appear at congressional hearings.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer refused a request from U.S. House attorneys to delay the removal, which he had previously ordered to take place at 1 p.m. EST. Greer determined that it should go forward about an hour after another judge issued a temporary delay blocking the tube's removal.

There was no immediate word on when the tube might be removed.
Thimbleful of cognac to Dances with Typos.
ayahuasca vine 2:03 PM |

The subpoenas have been served

Hyscience has an update-they served the subpoenas.
Press Release, MARCH 18, 2005, 11:45 AM




ayahuasca vine 1:32 PM |

Here's the ACLU.

Glen Wishard asked on a different Terri Schiavo thread:
Where's the ACLU? Where's the ACLU?

Where's the goddamn worthless-ass American So-Called Civil Liberties Union?
Why, the ACLU? They're right here, Glen! They've finally sprung into action to protect the true victim in this case, Michael Schiavo.
"It is a contempt of Congress to prevent or discourage someone from following the subpoena that's been issued," David Gibbs, the attorney for her parents, said. "What the U.S. Congress is saying is, `We want to see Terri Schiavo.'"

"The family is prayerfully excited about their daughter going before the United States Congress for the whole world to see how alive she is."

He said that despite her brain damage, she would be able to travel. A statement from the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., on Friday said the purpose of the hearing was to review health care policies and practices relevant to the care of non-ambulatory people.

Frist's statement noted that it is a federal crime to harm or obstruct a person called to testify before Congress.

Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Florida office, said his group's attorneys were working with Michael Schiavo's attorneys to determine if the subpoenas would block the scheduled removal of the tube.

"This is clearly an effort to circumvent a lawful court order by a state judge," Simon said. "I am not sure how a subpoena, which is ordinarily done to produce records or somebody to testify, can essentially have the effect of an injunction overriding the orders of a court."
ayahuasca vine 1:31 PM |

BREAKING: Judge orders Terri's tube kept in

Yahoo! News - Judge: Keep Woman's Feeding Tube in Place
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - A state judge Friday temporarily blocked the removal of the feeding tube that keeps severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive as legal wrangling continued over efforts by congressional Republicans to have her testify in Washington.

Pinellas Circuit Court Judge David Demers ordered that the feeding tube remain in place past a 1 p.m. EST deadline while fellow Judge George Greer, who is presiding over the Schiavo case, deals with conflicting legal issues.
ayahuasca vine 1:29 PM |

Drudge: Terri called as a witness in Congress, can't be killed!

**Exclusive Fri Mar 18 2005 00:50:07 ET** The Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) has requested Terri Schiavo to testify before his congressional committee, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. In so doing it triggers legal or statutory protections for the witness, among those protections is that nothing can be done to cause harm or death to this individual.

Members of Congress went to the U.S. Attorney in DC to ask for a temporary restraining order to be issued by a judge, which protects Terri Schiavo from having her life support, including her feeding and hydration tubes, removed... Developing...
A thimbleful of cognac to Final Historian for the heads up!
ayahuasca vine 1:28 PM |

Senate passes Terri's Bill

Now the House and Senate versions must be reconciled, then this expansion of habeas corpus goes to President Bush to become law.A thimbleful of cognac to Sherri for breaking this news (via a reader's email)...
ayahuasca vine 1:25 PM |

Blogburst for Terri: The "Baby Doe" Case

Joe Carter from Evangelical Outpost cites a case that occurred more than 20 years before Terri's.

Although Schiavo has been incapacitated for fifteen years, the circumstances of her death were forshadowed eight years before her collapse. In 1982, an infant, referred to as "Baby Doe", was born with Down Syndrome and esophageal atresia. A simple, relatively safe surgery could easily have rectified this child's esophagus problem, allowing the child to continue living. Both the parents and their physician, however, agreed that because of the potential "suffering" this child would endure, it would be better to forego surgery and allow the boy to die. Although the decision was challenged, it was upheld by the courts. Baby Doe suffered from starvation and thirst for six days before he finally died.

I don't know what those parents think about their decision now. Was Baby Doe their first child? Are they still together as a couple? Did they have other children who have now grown up? Of course we'll never know.

Our legal system has been allowing this for a long time. Joe Carter makes a strong case for civil disobedience:

The Bible tells us that God has ordained the state as delegated authority, authorized to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil, punish the wicked, and to protect its citizens. When it does the opposite it has ceased to have proper authority and becomes a lawless entity. It therefore not only becomes a right but a duty for Christians to resist such tyranny.

Joe's moral reasoning is sound. I have some trepidation that legalistic Christians will take this too far, and create another legal and perceptional backlash. But I fear the consequences of losing the battle for Terri even more.

Baby Doe was allowed to die and be forgotten. We need to exhaust every non-violent means to save her from an illegal judicial execution order if we are to save Terri from fate from which our system would protect a convicted murderer or dog.
papijoe 12:23 PM |