Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rainbows In The Dark

This blog is going to be on a very controversial and touchy subject; when, if ever is it OK to turn off life support on a human being? When I refer to life support, I'm including such neccessities as a feeding tube, mechanical respiration, intravenous drips, heart or lung bypass or total parenteral nutritcian. This is one of those issues that will forever be OK with some, and absolutely not OK for others. Some view this as a sin, or murder if you will, while others view it as having mercy on a person.

How many times have we heard about or seen in our media of a court case involving the right to remove somebody from life support? The most recent story that I can think of is of 41 year old Terri Schiavo of Florida. Here's a little background on Terri's case.

"Theresa Marie Schindler "Terri" Schiavo; (December 3, 1963 – March 31, 2005) was American woman who suffered brain damage and became dependent on a feeding tube. She collapsed in her home on February 25, 1990, and experienced respiratory and cardiac arrest, resulting in extensive brain damage, a diagnosis of persistent vegetative state (PVS) and 15 years of institutionalization. In 1998, Michael Schiavo, her husband and guardian, petitioned the Pinellas County Circuit Court to remove her feeding tube. Robert and Mary Schindler, her parents, opposed this, arguing she was still conscious of things and people surrounding her. The court determined that Schiavo would not wish to continue life-prolonging measures. This controversy lasted seven years and included involvement by politicians and numerous advocacy groups, particularly those involved in pro-life or disability rights causes.

Before the local court's decision was carried out, on March 18, 2005, the Floridian Government and the U.S. had passed laws that sought, unsuccessfully, to prevent removal of Schiavo's feeding tube. These events resulted in extensive national and international media coverage. By March 2005, the legal history around the Schiavo case included fourteen appeals and numerous motions, petitions, and hearings in the Florida courts; five suits in the Federal District Court; Florida legislation struck down by the Supreme Court of Florida; a subpoena by a congressional committee to qualify Schiavo for witness protection; Federal Legislation; and four denials of certiorari from the Supreme Court of The United States.

She died at a Pinellas Park Hospice on March 31, 2005, at the age of 41, after almost 14 days without food and water. Some have since maintained that her death constituted judicial murder. Terri's parents alleged that her husband was abusive and that this had led indirectly to her condition. The Florida Department of Children and Families rejected these allegations."

How many of you agreed or disagreed with the courts ruling and why?