Time to Close the Shiavo Case

As you probably know by now, the federal judge ruled against Terri’s parents and the feeding tube will not be reinserted. Her parents have already filed an appeal.

Once again, we have lost all perspective over the Terri Shiavo story. It certainly is a divisive issue that splits the county. Big Dog and I disagree on this issue – and we don’t disagree on much. A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll of 909 adults taken over the weekend reports that nearly six in 10 people said they think the feeding tube should be removed, and felt they would want to remove it for a child or spouse in the same condition. With similar numbers, an AOL poll of over 128,000 people indicates they agree with the court’s recent decision 68% to 32%. Perhaps Republicans should take note.

Now, I believe in the sanctity of human life, but enough is enough. We shouldn’t be legislating on the basis of one individual. How many courts have to rule against Terri’s parents before our legislators and those at the executive level get the message? The courts have heard all the evidence – not just that which is fed to us by the media – and have made an educated ruling.

Does anyone realize (or care about) the money we, as taxpayers, forked out for this weekend’s “special sessions” of Congress. Imagine, if you will, paying for last-minute, first class tickets for 635 legislators. What am I talking about? Don’t imagine it; we did it. Of course, not all 635 came back to vote. Many Democrats were no-shows for the Shiavo votes. To be accurate, 174 House representatives failed to show for the bill – with only 58 House Dems voting on Sunday. Big Dog may throw me off his blog for this; but, maybe they were the smart ones. Why trek all the way to Washington for a vote your party will likely lose and expose yourself to the election mudslinging which may result? Of course, I may be giving too much credit here as the absentees could have hoped a quorum wouldn’t be reached and voting would be moot. And, don’t forget we paid all the support personnel and staffers to come in and open the building and process paperwork on a Sunday. I’m sure they were all getting at least double pay. Personally, I’d like to know the cost of what we spent on the past weekend’s legislation.

One can only imagine how much this situation has cost the Florida taxpayers. With the involvement of all three branches of government, the time and money spent legislating and adjudicating this case over the past 15 years — as well as multiple investigations by Florida’s beleagured Department of Children and Families — must easily be counted in the millions of dollars. While every life is special and unique, how can this be fair to the other families that find themselves in similar situations without the benefit of a huge media blitz? The irony here is that, if Terri’s husband hadn’t been cast as a scoundrel by family and media, this case would have been long over. It makes for good news fodder and kept it in the public eye for an interminable length of time. It seems ironic that what’s keeping Terri alive is her husband’s shady reputation.

What’s being lost in the hype is the battle for power between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It’s a battle roiling beneath the surface that’s being fought at the state and federal levels. While the framers of our Constitution encouraged dissent among the three estates, I’m sure they weren’t counting on quite this much bickering. We can blame this power play for dragging the case out just as much as the media. Ultimately, we are all paying big bucks for it.

(Situation Wanted: After this post, I may need a position at another site as a guest blogger. Just in case, interested parties can e-mail me at surfside@onebigdog.net. Of course, this is only for the 60% of you that agree with me.)



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13 Responses to “Time to Close the Shiavo Case”

  1. Big Dog says:

    You position as guest writer is safe. If I expected everyone to agree with me on everything they would be nothing more than the Kool-aid drinkers that I laugh at all the time.

    The thing that is interesting is that 60% of the country is deciding what should be done for Terri based upon what they would do for them selves. There are a lot of people who are saying that they would not want to live like that. Well that is fine and they should have a living will to protect against this kind of nightmare. Terri’s so called wishes not to be kept alive only surfaced relatively recently. Her husband should not actually have any say. Since he took up a common law wife he should have abandoned any claim to his legal wife. Kind of funny he is allowed to have a squeeze and still say what happens to Terri. If she were able to file for divorce she would have no problems based upon his infidelity.

    Anyway, about the cost. I stated right up front that this should not be in the Congress. It is an issue for the state to decide. In all reality this is not something that doctors, lawyers or judges should decide. This should be up to her parents. Her husband abandoned that position and left the care of her up to mom and dad so they should be given the chance to care for their daughter if they so desire. This should not be decided by the population, polls, or judges. It should always be the case to err on the side of life. I would not want to live in the way Terri does but I have papers saying that I am not to be sustained.

  2. Surfside says:

    It’s not just what they would do for themselves. It’s also what they would want for their spouses and children — which is very different. Since no one can definitively say (if you refuse to believe the husband) what Terri wanted, public opinion is as good a barometer as any. If we’re allowing Congress to legislate just for Terri, why not a referendum by the people?

    You want to give the benefit of the doubt to parents who likely won’t be capabale of taking care of Terri much longer. If her siblings don’t take over her care, she’s right back in the nursing home being a burden on the taxpayer.

    You’re ignoring the major issue here: the courts have repeatedly reviewed the case and ruled in favor of Michael Shiavo. You just can’t decide to disregard 15 (I think that’s the number) court decisions on the matter. Why adjudicate anything, then? No one — not you, me, or the media — have as much information regarding this case at their disposal than the courts which rendered the decisions.

    With Republicans firmly believing in God and (supposedly) an afterlife, it seems like no one’s very willing to allow Terri to go to a “better place.” What’s wrong with that logic? I defy you to find one Congressman who would change places with Terri and still want to live — at least, not if they were being honest.

  3. Surfside says:

    BTW, Big Dog, I didn’t think I might need a new position because I disagreed with you. I thought I might need one because I called the absentee Dems “smart.” In truth, I was being a Smart A$$. ;-)

  4. Big Dog says:

    I admittedly do not know as much about this case as the people closest to the situation. I know that it is difficult for anyone to make these decisions. In fact, imposing our will on Terri is not what I think the courts should do. I know there has been judicial review but I wonder what this will lead to. Will families of invalids in nursing homes decide that their loved one actually wanted to die so it is OK to pull the plug. Hell, there are many drains on our tax money by people who are perfectly healthy. Perhaps we should send them to the same fate to save money.

  5. Big Dog says:

    Here is an interesting story I found at GOP Bloggers about a person who was arrested for starving his cattle. I guess he did not have a court order to kill them.

  6. Surfside says:

    Unless the cattle are in a vegative state and will be unable to sustain their own life, I really don’t think you can draw a parallel. Are these cattle on feeding tubes and likely spend the next 15 years in a nursing home at the taxpayers’ expense? Did various courts rule that these cattle expressed wishes not to use extraordinary methods to sustain their lives?

    Yes, I think I can see the parallel — not.

  7. Big Dog says:

    Are you equating the treatment of animals to that of humans? Of course not. Animals always get treated better. We need a PETH! Perhaps after they kill Terri, they can butcher her and eat her. Nah, won’t be enough meat on her bones after being starved to death.

    Cattle should never be in a vegetative state. They should always be served with vegetables though.

  8. Schatz says:

    I have to agree with you on this one Big Dog. In a lot of ways. We do treat animals better than people in some respects. There would certainly be a PETA member available to protest and argue if someone were trying to remove a feeding tube from a non-functional (but aware) pet. And although I see Surfside’s point and where it comes from, I have to say that we cannot use a cost-basis analysis to determine the validity of someone’s wishes or desires. I personally do not know what Terri would want but I feel her parents are in a better position to make that decision than her “husband” who is either a bigamist (and therefore a criminal and should be ineligible to make such a decision) or no longer her husband and therefore not eligible to make her health care decisions. Either way I think this guy has lost his standing and the state (and country) should abide by her parents’ wishes. Yes, this is all costing us a lot of money but I for one cannot put a price on a human life. I think starving to death is a horrible way to die and if someone were intentionally doing that to a dog, we would be seeing it on Animal Precinct on the Animal Plant.

    Every day people with “terminal” illnesses are given costly medical care in the hopes of prolonging their life if not curing their ailment. Should we be able to decide that once that person is too weak or sick to be a “functional” person that they are no longer eligible for such care and it is costing us too much and therefore we should stop feeding them and “decrease the surplus population” (Scrooge – A Christmas Carol).

    I pray for Terri and her family, they certainly can use it. I pray also for this country – because God knows we need it.

  9. Surfside says:

    Actually, it was Big Dog that brought animals into the picture. For the record, I do not perscribe to PETAs actions or methods. And, I’m certainly not suggesting we should treat animals better than people (although my husband may disagree with me on this point).

    What you may not understand is that families are faced with this choice every day in situations with more unpredictable outcomes than the Shiavo case. Our family was faced with the same feeding tube choice when my Father had a stroke. There was no way of knowing how or if he would recover when we faced the decision. We were also told that once it’s in, it’s very difficult — legally speaking — to have it removed. We opted for the tube as the possibility for improvement existed. You might say I’m not emotionally detached from this issue.

    Legally, the husband didn’t loose legal standing because no one contested it through the appropriate channels. Therefore, the court system must adjudicate on what its presented. I’m not suggesting we make a cost-basis anylsis concerning anyone’s life. The point is we are spending an incredible amount of money because legislators don’t like the various court decisions.

  10. Surfside says:

    Trust me when I tell you there are quite a few dogs starving out there. Many are being starved intentionally. These people are never called murderers and usually just get fined — if anything. There is no comparison, nor should there be.

    I, too, pray for Terri and her family. Believe it or not, my heart bleeds for them.

  11. Surfside says:

    If anyone is interested, Fox News is reporting that all the doctors who actually examined Terri and her test results confirm that her cerebral cortex is, indeed, liquefied. Those doctors purporting to the contrary have only had brief visits with her or have only reviewed the video tape.

    They also report on Neil Cavuto’s show that both Terri and Michael were awarded separate $1 million awards in 1993. This money is virtually gone, spent on Terri’s care and the court cases. Michael’s lawyers stopped charging fees in 2002 because the money was dwindling. A FNC reporter indicated there was only a total of $45,000 to $50,000 left.

    Also, contrary to previous claims, experts are reporting at Fox that her death would be peaceful.

    I’m glad that a news outlet has finally begun to accurately report the facts. Leave it to FNC to lead the way.

  12. Big Dog says:

    I do not know about the experts at Fox but I have actually seen people who starve to death and peaceful is a relative term. A person hit by a train and killed instantly dies a peaceful death because they did not feel much of anything. When you starve to death organ systems begin to shut down and your body consumes itself to stay alive. Imagine how you feel when you are thirsty and multiply that then add the problems associated with metabolic acidosis. No, I would say her death might be peaceful in that not a lot of noise will be made but it will not be painless. She will suffer, and suffer a lot, and it is not necessary.

    Interestingly, as someone over at GOP Bloggers pointed out, if Terri had killed someone and then been sentenced to death and decided that she would go on a hunger strike and starve herself to death then the very same people who removed this tube would make her get one put in to keep her from killing herself just so the state could do it themselves.

    As a side note, a “liquified” cerebral cortex is certainly not good but she is able to follow people with her eyes and respond to stimuli. This hardly qualifies as vegetative, it is just not high functioning.

    I guess my question is why do they not just inject her with chemicals to kill her? The end result would be the same. This mehtod just gives people a cowardly way of saying “Well, it is not our fault she could not feed herself, but we did not kill her, she starved herself to death.”

  13. Surfside says:

    Sorry, that was $700,000 for Terri and $300,000 for Michael.