« Closeups from San Diego | Main | snark alert »

March 20, 2005

Killing Terri - courtesy the American Eugenics Party

Welcome to the modern Democratic Party with eugenics and euthanasia as the new values of anointed elites. Paul at Wizbang is live-blogging the debate on Terri's value as human being or potted plant to the nation and it looks like they are really anxious to see her die.

I'm aghast.

UPDATE I guess this bears reposting as some are as unaware now as I was a couple of months ago just what is considered medically standard in determining PVS.

Terri’s diagnosis was arrived at without the benefit of testing that most neurologists would consider standard for diagnosing PVS. One such test is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). MRI is widely used today, even for ailments as simple as knee injuries — but Terri has never had one. Michael has repeatedly refused to consent to one. The neurologists I have spoken to have reacted with shock upon learning this fact. One such neurologist is Dr. Peter Morin. He is a researcher specializing in degenerative brain diseases, and has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Boston University.

In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.

There was a moment of dead silence.

“That’s criminal,” he said, and then asked, in a tone of utter incredulity: “How can he continue as guardian? People are deliberating over this woman’s life and death and there’s been no MRI or PET?” He drew a reasonable conclusion: “These people [Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer] don’t want the information.”

Dr. Morin explained that he would feel obligated to obtain the information in these tests before making a diagnosis with life and death consequences. I told him that CT (Computer-Aided Tomography) scans had been done, and were partly the basis for the finding of PVS. The doctor retorted, “Spare no expense, eh?” I asked him to explain the comment; he said that a CT scan is a much less expensive test than an MRI, but it “only gives you a tenth of the information an MRI does.” He added, “A CT scan is useful only in pretty severe cases, such as trauma, and also during the few days after an anoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury. It’s useful in an emergency-room setting. But if the question is ischemic injury [brain damage caused by lack of blood/oxygen to part of the brain] you want an MRI and PET. For subsequent evaluation of brain injury, the CT is pretty useless unless there has been a massive stroke.”

Do read the whole thing, ok? Do learn that a 1996 study by the British Medical Journal found a 43% error rate in misdiagnosis of PVS. Do realize that "Dr" Cranford is a published advocate of euthanasia for eugenics reasons. Do understand that Terri is most certainly NOT PVS because she does respond to her environment.

Posted by Darleen at March 20, 2005 07:52 PM


Hi Darleen, I read your comment over at redstate on the schiavo case. "CT scan is woefully inadequate for any ANY definitive evaluation of PVS" you also imply that PET/MRI would be a better diagnostic tool. I wonder where you obtained this information. The BMJ, after a comprehensive review of the literature, allows for a diagnosis with only neurological testing of awareness. No imaging is required. Given the fact that she has not responded for nearly 10 years, she well surpasses the AAFP's "one month" guideline. If you could please provide your references and possible a little extra explanation of how an MRI or PET (especially PET!) would be of benefit.

Posted by: Inconseq at March 20, 2005 09:53 PM


BMJ? The British Medical Journal? That has absolutely no relevance in this case, since this is an American woman in the United States.

The AAFP? The American Academy of Family Physicians? I was unaware that neurologists are now considered GPs.

Stop the cherry-picking stupidity and just say what you want to say: you want to see Terri dead because she lives a lebensunwerten lebens.

Posted by: Sue Dohnim at March 21, 2005 06:14 AM

Darleen, I'm sure you aren't aware of the Texas Futile Care Law?

George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.
--from Digby (http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_03_20_digbysblog_archive.html#111134934659869241)

Posted by: Brad at March 21, 2005 10:38 AM

Since he began killing the infirm, you now agree with Bush, right Brad?

Posted by: Sue Dohnim at March 21, 2005 11:41 AM

I was also curious when I read the link that you quoted, it said that doing an MRI would not be any more conclusive. This is a sad time for everyone involved, regardless of position.

I remember when Oregon passed the "right to die" legistion, voted for by THE PEOPLE, it was a states decision that they wanted to allow it, and the federal government/Ashcroft have spent millions of dollars trying to overturn it. So I guess that state's rights issue is only for things that Bush and DeLay agree with?

Posted by: Mieke at March 21, 2005 02:14 PM


I've actually read Section 166 and I see you're cutting and pasting the slander that somehow patients are being put to death for a due bill.

I'm being very patient in allowing your comment to stand to demonstrate to anyone reading what an idiot and cruel statement that is.

Section 166 is there to allow for a protocol of resolving medical treatment disputes between medical practioners and patients families.

I suppose now you'll run back to Baghdad Blob for the next cut-n-paste.

Spare me.

Posted by: Darleen at March 21, 2005 05:53 PM


The BMJ study in 1996 said that PVS diagnosis has a 43% error rate. You want to euthanize a "low functioning" person who has people willing to care for him/her when there is a 43% chance the doctor was WRONG?

Tell me, Mieke -- would you go skydiving if you were handed a parachute with the warning label "43% chance of failure"???

Posted by: Darleen at March 21, 2005 05:56 PM

I cut and paste when someone else's words do better than anything I could come up with, Darleen. The real point is, this woman's husband has every right to make life and death decisions for her. Tom Delay and the evangelicals are using this case to score political points--in what is an unprecedented overreach of Congressional authority.

Posted by: Brad at March 21, 2005 06:28 PM

I have to agree with Brad on this one. The bond of marriage we have been hearing so much about supercedes the desires of the parents. During the arguements today Mr. Schiavo's side gave evidence of her desire not "to live" like this. I give him the benefit of the doubt.

This is a hard issue, as I said before. It's too bad she didn't have it in writing, at least now there has been a run on living wills. I know if I were Terri I wouldn't want to live like that. It would be maddening. I don't have the hard time that many people do with death. I am a Dutch American and was raised knowing that my grandmother was given a lethal injection when her cancer became too much for her to bear. I also have friends who had expressed clearly their desires and who were also "assisted" when they could not do it themselves.

I know you will agrue that we must take Mr. Schiavo's word for it, because Terri did not leave clear instructions. Her husband did not abandon her, he fought for her to get better and when it became clear she would not, he moved to have her wishes honored. I don't have a problem with that.

While you site stats. on the BJM study (though I have yet to see a doctor say she has a chance of recovery), the point is irrelevant to me, she said she would not want to live like that, and that should be honored. I certainly hope it would be for me.

Posted by: Mieke at March 21, 2005 08:00 PM

So marriage supercedes Terri's rights, is that what I'm hearing.

Golly gee, think of all the work I could just get rid of, my caseload would shrink SO much by never prosecuting spouses who beat or kill each other... I mean, she married him so she agrees to whatever he does to her, right?

Brad...you cut and pasted a LIE.

Mieke, I'm sorry for your grandmother and if she clearly left documentary evidence of her wishes, then fine. Terri left NO SUCH WISHES and the timeline of events show Michael only "fought for Terri" until such time he got a million dollar judgement. As someone with 7 years in a DA office, his sudden interest in killing her almost immediately on the heels of the judgement SHOUTS MOTIVE.

Terri is NOT brain dead. Yes, she will never recover to her old self but there are doctors who have testified she can be rehabed to a point of feeding herself and simple speech. Michael has repeatedly denied ANY rehab and left instructions that deprive her environment of ANY stimulus.

You know, she doesn't even get minimal dental care and has had to have several teeth extracted.

You know, Terri's condition sounds awfully like a profoundly disabled child, doesn't it? When do we start starving THEM so they aren't a "burden" on society?

This call to eugenics is as frightening as it is sickening.

Posted by: Darleen at March 21, 2005 09:19 PM

You are oversimplifying what I said. The person that gets to make decisions is her husband not her parents. That's the protocol. If my husband wanted to donate my organs or pull the plug my parents would not/should not have the power to deny his wishes.

Posted by: Mieke at March 22, 2005 08:21 AM


I think you'll like what this rabbi had to say.

Posted by: Mieke at March 22, 2005 08:29 AM

Crap. I still haven't figured out how to do HTML links in comments. This is what I wanted to send you. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7259993/site/newsweek/

Posted by: Mieke at March 22, 2005 08:30 AM

Brad...you cut and pasted a LIE.

Darleen, pray tell..what was the lie I pasted?

Are you saying that this story from Texas is a lie? You deny that George Bush, as Texas governor, signed a law which allows doctors to remove life support from terminal patients when they cannot pay their med bills? Show me this Sectyion 166 you keep referring too.

You're obviously letting your heart rule your head--and I think a lot of evangelicals do that too. Not that you are an evangelical. But here are the facts of this case: this woman has been in a vegetative state for FIFTEEN years.

There have been SIX reviews by the appellate court, and the Florida Appeals Court said that Judge Greer found clear and convincing evidence that Schiavo is in a well-diagnosed, persistent vegetative state...and that there is NO HOPE of her ever recovering consciousness. And alsothat she had stated she would not ever want to be maintained this way.

I found another quote I'd like to cut and paste (apologies are apparently necessary since you must do all your own research and then put everything you research into your own words).

This is from the Rev. John Paris, a professor of bioethics at Boston College, who has served as an expert witness on numerous cases involving patients who are kept alive by artificial means:

Go and find the first 12 people you meet and say to them, "If you were to suffer a cerebral aneurysm, and we were able to diagnose that with a PET-scan immediately, would you want to be put on a feeding tube, knowing that you can be sustained in this existence?" I have asked that question in medical audiences, legal audiences and audiences of judges. I'll bet I have put that question before several thousand people. How many people do you think have said they wanted to be maintained that way? Zero. Not one person. Now that tells you about where the moral sentiment of our community is."

Now why can't you see through your bleeding heart to the real issues at work here? This woman's case is being used by the Religious Right and the Republicans who are sucking up to them for VOTES. You can't see that? Here's a quote which you probably missed from this morning’s New York Times:

As tensions festered among Republicans, Democratic aides passed out an unsigned one-page memorandum that they said had been distributed to Senate Republicans. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," the memorandum said.

Tom Delay is using this case to also distract everyone from his own ethical lapses:

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. A recording of the event was provided by the advocacy organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.

DeLay complained that "the other side" had figured out how "to defeat the conservative movement," by waging personal attacks, linking with liberal organizations and persuading the national news media to report the story. He charged that "the whole syndicate" was "a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in."

I would really, really like for you to consider and respond to these facts, one at a time, before going omn with your emotional tirade against so-called "activist judges".

Posted by: Brad at March 22, 2005 10:33 AM

Darleen, Thank you for clarifying your source on how CT is worse than MRI/PET. I'm not familiar with the national review but I know it is not a scientific journal. But when someone speaks of CT vs. MRI or debates any other type of diagnostic test, it cannot come from the opinion of one expert alone. Evidence-based medicine dictates that well thought out, funded, and researched clinical trials be the judge of which is better or not. I've been unable to find any convincing peer-reviewed literature citing MRI or CT is better. But there's never any reason to use a bulldozer when a shovel will do. Cost-effective medicine not PET/MRI, unfortunately, is our "medical standard". By making claims that are rooted in politically motivated rather than medically sound sources, you have the potential to fall victim to the same accusations that you just leveled at 'Brad': cutting and pasting a lie.

Posted by: Inconseq at March 22, 2005 11:08 AM

p.s. Sue, the British Medical Journal is read worldwide and is a widely respected body of literature. In spite of many inherent differences between Britons and Americans, we both suffer from the same diseases and both use the same research.

Posted by: Inconseq at March 22, 2005 11:12 AM

One more thing, Darleen...in response to the National Review article you posted in your Update, I highly recommend you read this

Posted by: Brad at March 22, 2005 12:25 PM

Mieke, should a parent that has effectively abandoned their child get to make choices for that child? Michael Schiavo has a new common-law wife and two children by her. Can we say that he's abandoned his husbandly duties - except for trying to carry out what he says are her uncorroborated wishes?

Last time I looked, having crap taste in men wasn't a crime punishable by death, but that's what it's turning out to be here.

I agree with Darleen's initial assessment: her parents want to care for her. End of story.

Posted by: Sal at March 22, 2005 12:44 PM

You're wrong, Sal...it's not the Schiavo family that's taking care of her, it's the taxpayers of Florida. $80,000 a month in bills covered by Medicaid, a program which, incidentally, was recommended for heavy cuts by the Republicans last month.

(go ahead now and accuse me of wanting her dead to save money. I know how you conseravtives think. You're wrong, of course)

Her brain is mush. She's never going to be able to function as more than a vegetable and her husband's decision, affirmed by six appellate court reviews, should be respected.

Posted by: Brad at March 22, 2005 01:21 PM


I understand where you are coming from, but I don't agree. Michael stuck by her side for YEARS. Would you deny him the right to "move on"? He has a young, young child with another on the way. It's not like he has a thirteen year old with his "wife". Just because he has moved on, doesn't diminish the love he had for the wife Terri once was. My husband had a first wife who died (cervical cancer - GET YOUR PAP EVERY YEAR), does it mean anything about the love he has for her because he married me and made a family? No. I haven't replaced Lynn; our marriage is entirely separate from their marriage. In my own first marriage, it took us years to get a divorce, my parents took 12 years; whether hope springs eternal or it is hard to sever that last tie. I understand why Michael didn’t get a divorce.

Posted by: Mieke at March 22, 2005 02:11 PM

Dahlia Lithwick wrote about the Schiavo case in Oct. 2003, for Slate and articulates most clearly what I have struggled to over the last few days.

She writes:

"...And in general, the spouse is granted preference over family members. Why? For the same reason most states give spouses the decision over how to dispose of the body of the deceased, and for the same reason states allow spouses to inherit first. Because the difference between your parents and your spouse is that you chose the latter to care for you and to care for in return. As a consequence of that choice the law assumes that your spouse knows you intimately and shares with you a sphere of legal privacy into which even your parents and siblings may not intrude. Do some of us choose badly? Certainly. But is it still a generally sound legal presumption that your mate knows you best? Yes.

This isn't to say that spouses may execute their partners at will. Or that one's spouse is one's property, any more than one's child is one's property. But in death, as in life, the courts must ultimately grant some decision-making powers to someone. It is a mistake to view these end-of-life cases as analogous to death penalty cases. The only issue on the table is who best knows what you'd have wanted for yourself. The courts must conduct a thorough inquiry to that end—is this guardian fit? Is he in fact expressing the patient's wishes for herself? Is her medical condition indeed irreversible? In this case, the courts have done all this. Medical experts have spoken. Michael Schiavo was not given this decision cavalierly. It was given him as his wife's partner and caretaker, someone she took until death do us part.

The courts have not found that Michael Schiavo is unfit to act as his wife's guardian, only the Florida Legislature did that. But in a more profound way, Terri Schiavo decided this case the day she married him. Until and unless a court finds him unfit, it is vital that we respect that."

Posted by: Mieke at March 22, 2005 02:38 PM

Hello all,

I know you are all emotionally charged with this case and I respect your interest in this critical debate. The emotionally charged nature of this debate makes it all the more critical that we get the facts straight. First, it has been claimed repeatedly in both news media and your website here that Terri Shiavo never had an MRI. Wrong. She did. In addition, she has received acute attention from neurologists for over a decade. Please don't presume to know more than they. These people obtain bachelor's degrees, then go on to receive another four years of education to receive an M.D., only to go on to spend another four years in residency. I, myself, have a bachelor's degree in nursing and am a research associate at a highly regarded university hospital.
By listing my own credentials, please don't think that I am attempting to "pull rank." I am just saying that I have considered such cases deeply. In fact, the research I have participated in over the past ten years has predominantly included persons with Alzheimer's disease. I have some educated sense of what is reversible and what isn't. Terri's condition is not reversible no matter how much we might wish this weren't the case. Regardless of this, I still would respect an individual's belief that we should not make the choice to let her die. I consider myself a moral and ethical human being and have to allow others to have their own opinion. But, please don't distort the facts. They are what they are. I am sorry that the facts may offend, but there is no good reason to avoid them. Accept the facts and then decide as you may. There is nothing wrong with believing that Terri should live within the context of these facts. I beg you to embrace these facts, then discuss what is relavent to these facts. A dialectic on these facts is essential. Otherwise, all the emotionally charged banter is nothing--nothing but ignorant banter.

Posted by: eric colling at March 23, 2005 05:20 PM

I have been trying to find a site by which I could send a message to Terri's parents and siblings and have so far been unsuccessful. I believe that one should have the choice of whether or not they are kept alive by artificial means. However, if this isn't written, then we as a society and as children of God should err on the side of life. This case has brought to the forefront the fact that we all should make provisions for such occurences. My anger is overwhelming. I have prayed for forgiveness for the prayer asking that Michael Shiavo be placed in a position of suffering in much the same way as he has placed Terri and her family. My living will states that my spouse will have custody only if my son agrees with the treatment. If there is at any time a disagreement or concern of my family, then custodial care is to be granted to the family. Family.... husband's can be and are replaced, but parents, siblings, and children are always family.

Posted by: Naomi at March 29, 2005 08:52 PM