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June 15, 2005

Terri Schaivo - what does the autopsy mean?

Seems with the autopsy being released there is some preening going on. I've already had a few pointed emails, since I did post that I thought the court was wrong to allow Terri to be euthanized.

Does Terri's autopsy change my mind? No, not at all. Because Terri's condition was irrelevant. I said so in my very first post on the subject:

I think even debating whether or not she is PVS (permanent vegetative state) is irrelevant. Please understand, her condition is IRRELEVANT. Her parents and her siblings are willing to care for her.

This issue is "she can be cared for" VS "she can be killed."

I have eschewed the hatefilled rhetoric of both sides...those that would have either Michael or Terri's parents as Satan.Incarnate. The people who sent extremely vicious hatemail to people like Charles Johnson or Michele are just as worthy of strong condemnation of their abject indecency as those that made gruesome jokes about Terri (there was a "Terri blog" with all the entries consisting of "grunts" and there was another one dedicated to thinking up things one could "do" with her "dead" body). I just want to slap each and everyone of these people up alongside the head.

And I took a chance and explained why I wanted the law to err on the side of life. It was still consistent with my first post about the irrelevancy of either Terri's condition or Michael's motivations.

So the autopsy doesn't change my mind at all, because it was never a core concern. As Bill eloquently puts it:

This doesn't critically undermine many of the ethical arguments on either side of the issue, but it certainly kills much of the over-the-top hyperbole and inaccuracy surrounding her condition.
Others with some very thoughtful posts:

Kevin at Wizbang
Trevino at Redstate.org

Posted by Darleen at June 15, 2005 07:00 PM



I read several times, as you argued at length in the comment threads of Wizbang, as to why Terri Schiavo was not in a PVS, contradicting your newfound insistence here of its irrelevancy. And, I saw you argue a few of the other outrageous assertions as to her conditions, along with a healthy dose of bile towards those whose judgments and diagnoses have now been vindicated.

And, as I watched the press conference on TV tonite, I thought of you.

Then, they played the infuriating clips of DeLay, Roy Blunt, Jeb Bush and Bill Frist making patently false statements as to the condition of Terri Schiavo. The effects of which will further devastate the Republicans and the Conservative Right.

Posted by: that colored fella at June 15, 2005 11:59 PM


Your reason and decency are very welcome. We disagree, but we will not become enemies because of it. Belief can be severely bruised by fact. Maybe there's a discussion here that focuses on just what is life. I have wondered if the worst that she suffered was to be kept "alive" for so long when the term had no further meaning.

Posted by: Mr.Kurtz at June 16, 2005 12:20 AM


When I argued Terri was not "PVS" it was from the position that she had NOT been diagnosised with it. Indeed, even the autopsy cannot prove she was PVS.

Understand that when one is seeking to actively kill another person in this context that there should be two clear and convincing points

1) That she was PVS (and it was Michael himself that refused definitive tests for it)

2) That her wishes were clearly known

IMO, the court ruled to euthanize Terri when both those points fell short

I never engaged in the extremism that I saw from both sides; infact, I railed against it.

That still doesn't detract from my core argument... Regardless of Terri's condition, why is it such a problem to let her be taken care of by family members willing to do so?

Posted by: Darleen at June 16, 2005 06:20 AM

Mr. Kurtz

If Terri wasn't "there" anymore, what could she be suffering?

Really, this is a Greek tragedy no matter how it played.

Posted by: Darleen at June 16, 2005 06:22 AM

Greek tragedy, Darleen? More like a made for Lifetime Network TV soap opera.

Look, I've been following this case and reading your posts about it, and I have to point out a few things about your own claims in the wake of a scientific autopsy.

You say you "never engaged in the extremism" of both sides. You certainly did. You labled the Democratic party the American Eugenics Party . You sided entirely with the Schindler family and posted the claims of their supporters no matter how ridiculous, like the nurse Nurse Carla Sauer Iyer and her absurd claims that Mrs. Schiavo responded to her. You stated that the court forbade Mrs. Schiavo to
receive any food and water by mouth
as a way of showing the cruel manner of her being put to death, ignoring the weight of medical opinion, confirmed by the autopsy, that “she would not have been able to eat or drink had she been fed by mouth, as her parents had requested.” . You were too quick to side with any claims that Michael Schiavo had been physically beating his wife; yet as the autopsy showed no evidence of that, you didn’t bother to mention it. “The autopsy [also] found no evidence that… she had been given harmful drugs that may have accelerated her death.”

You have overlooked the wildly emotional claims of the Schindler family and their supporters who insisted that Terri could see and react to stimuli using carefully edited videos to propagandize for their so-called right to life movement. Now that we know that she was blind,, do you harbor doubts about the rationale of this movement?

You repeatedly smeared and ridiculed Dr. Ron Cranford for his conclusions that Mrs. Schiavo was PVS, and now that his diagnosis has been substantiated by the autopsy, you have not acknowledged that you were wrong.

Nor did you ever mentioned Dr. Jay Wolfson’s report to Jeb Bush and the Florida courts and his similar conclusions about Schiavo being in a persistent vegetative state.

You wrote “Terri is not much different than tens of thousands of other Americans who are profoundly disabled in one manner or another.” But that fact in and of itself does not necessarily support a position of keeping a person with no consciousness and no brain activity alive indefinitely, simply because electrical activity continues in the brain stem.

Your ethical arguments are only one aspect of this case. You can argue, as the Religious Right does, that even a person who is PVS with no hope of recovery should never be put to death. But you cannot claim that all other issues – including the PVS issue—are irrelevant, especially when you spent so much energy pointing out “flaws” in the PVS argument (such as the 1996 British Medical Journal study with the 43% error rate). Of course the PVS issue is relevant to this case (and relevant to you personally ). It is the issue by which a husband or wife or family member makes a decision about continuing very expensive treatment. You ask, why it’s a problem to let her be taken care of by family members willing to do so? Because those family members do not have the legal right to make that decision. That’s why marriage as a legal concept is important. When you say the husband has no right to make decisions for his wife, then you undermine the case for marriage (and would you ever consider the ramifications of these life and death decisions, which are made every day by literally thousands of families with a PVS patients, with respect to the legal rights of couples who are not recognized as married under the law?). Futhermore, you ignore the political aspects of this case—the unprecedented intervention of the Congress and the President on a State matter and the long term legal ramifications of such legislation; and the hypocrisy of certain Republican politicians who were obviously catering to a radical constituency in order to curry favor toward future elections? None of this matters to you; yet it is all relevant.

Posted by: Brad at June 17, 2005 08:39 AM

Ahhh snap!

Props to Brad, for digging up the C-Span/Frist frying-like videotape 'smoking gun'!

I've purposely watched the Fox News non-coverage of the autopsy results these past two days, which looks nothing like the hysterical, 24/7, wing nut, open mike coverage of just a few months ago.

Here is no better example Darleen, as to why Bill O'Reilly's TV ratings are plummeting and Bush and the Republicans' approvals along with them! Yet, those of you on the Right continue to believe that such blatant acts of hypocrisy and deception are not the reason.

Posted by: that colored fella at June 18, 2005 05:17 AM

Brad said it all - and brilliantly I might add.

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