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April 08, 2005

'One swallow does not make a summer' ...

The quote by Aristotle is a succinct warning about looking for patterns or "slippery slopes" in any singular event. However, sometimes that singular event brings attention to things that may be happening just under the radar of attention.

I came to the Terri Schiavo case troubled by the rhetoric from both sides of the issue and tried to scrape it away to get to what I thought was the core issue: how should the Law approach a dispute over the care of a non-terminal but profoundly disabled person when said person's own wishes were in dispute? My contention was that the Law should always err on the side of continued life. My worry is, and always has been, the mischief created when the Law tries to engage in the determination of "quality of life" decisions. The argument is like trying to nail jello to the wall.

At the conclusion of the Schiavo case I felt that a line had been crossed. A faint one, and one that I hoped in the future would get full societal hearing and repudiation -- that some people are just plain inconvenient and even if their wishes were in dispute, the fact they were inconvenient to others was most important to the law than such a person's own right to life be protected by default. It spoke directly to the gooey "quality of life" argument -- the more profoundly disabled one was, the more one lost their rights under the Constitution.

Now, Schiavo's case was not the first swallow of summer. Certainly Robert Wendland's brush with attempted legal euthanasia might qualify. But certainly the new case of Mae Magouirk [please see update below] has got to give one pause as yet another swallow winging into sight. Since I do not wish to be accused of quoting out of context, I urge you to read the whole article at the link.

The most salient part of the whole article is that Mae had a living will her granddaughter ignored.

How many more swallows until we have a serious discussion about how we want our culture to treat the weakest among us? Are their rights to be contingent upon their convenience to the rest of us? Are even their expressed wishes to be sacrificed upon the Secular Altar of "Quality of Life?"

It's not quite the summer I had in mind to leave to my children. You?

hattip Paul at Wizbang

UPDATE It seems my link to the local paper, The LaGrange News no longer shows Mae's story AND their is no cache of the front page as they seem to be a PAID ONLY subscriber newspaper. So I've removed the link and offer here some of the other links to the story WND - they broke the story, plus WXIA-TV in Georgia, and Empire Journal.

UPDATE II Looks as if Mae Magouirk has been airlifted out of the hospice to a hospital, though the hospital is unable to confirm or deny the information due to HIPA regulations.

Posted by Darleen at April 8, 2005 07:10 PM


You've got the legal expertise - weren't we all being advised to get a durable power of attorney, because of cases like this? And, is there any safeguard against crappy relatives who just want you out of the way? Who else can you get to be your advocate if you don't want any family members, for whatever reasons?

First simple thing to do is to allow hospices to only admit persons who have a diagnosed terminal illness that will kill them in a fairly certain period of time. Have a list (and no, Alzheimer's can't be on it.) One of the subtle PR things about the Schiavo case was the correlation in the average person's mind that hospice = terminal illness.

You know, when we were telling people thirty years ago that abortion on demand would lead to this, we were ridiculed. "Oh, no - there'll be all sorts of legal safeguards in place. You're just being an alarmist." But we foresaw the change in the public attitude that would gradually lead to the U.S. being frickin' Holland. Like a whole generation that takes it for granted that part of the population can be "unwanted" and just "gotten rid" of - because you can.

Sometimes it's dreadful to be right.

Posted by: Sal at April 9, 2005 09:49 AM

That link is a story about Eric Rudolph. Did the link change?

Posted by: Erik at April 9, 2005 04:16 PM