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God’s reps on earth warn against playing God

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I originally viewed the “sinister cabal” blogcritics tagline as innocuous pleasantry, but a review of some of the commentary on the Schiavo matter raises the possibility that it’s in earnest.

In Disabled or Dead?, the faith-swaddled Denise Jones proposes, in the name of her deity, to overrule living wills that are “based in ignorance” and hijack their authors’ fates:

If a living will exists but was made under very different conditions to the one they now find themselves in, who is to be sure the reality of living as a disabled person rather than the hypothetical scenario it once was still holds the same meaning?

Terri Schiavo made her statement, which her life-ending decision was based upon, when the scenario to her was hypothetical. She died on the basis of a hypothesis. Is that how any of us should live or die?

Gonzo Marx” responds to Jones’s piece with a dissent, but errs by overreaching to the opposite extreme:

Denise..as has been stated over and over..all this had been brought up in Court…the court appointed doctors agreed she was in a state where no recovery was possible, the areas of the brain in question had liquefied.

An editor’s note at another blogcritic’s commentary refers to Killing Terri, a March 26 Wall Street Journal editorial, as “a brilliant piece.” In fact, it’s yet another call for hijacking.

The article, by James Q. Wilson, who has taught at Harvard, UCLA and Pepperdine, begins with an error:

Ms. Schiavo is in what many physicians call a “persistent vegetative state,” or PVS. That means that she lacks an awareness of herself or other people, cannot engage in purposeful action, does not understand language, is incontinent, and sleeps a lot. To be clinically classified as being in a PVS, these conditions should be irreversible.

Wrong. The American Academy of Neurology (AAN), responding to many inquiries from the press in light of the Terri Schiavo case, points to its 1995 practice parameter, which makes it clear that recovery from PVS is not an absolute impossibility:

Recovery from PVS [persistent vegetative state] can be defined in terms of recovery of consciousness and recovery of function…. [D]ata were collected for patients in PVS for more than 12 months, and these show almost no probability of recovery. The available data indicate that recovery of consciousness from post-traumatic PVS after 12 months in adults and children is unlikely. Recovery from nontraumatic PVS after 3 months is exceedingly rare in both adults and children. The above data are based on [well-designed clinical studies]. Several individual case reports … have described a few verified late recoveries of consciousness from traumatic (>12 months) or nontraumatic (>3 months) injury.

Wilson goes on to liberally brandish the term “murder” against conscientious medical practitioners, judges, genuinely loving relatives, and others:

If [chances of recovery] are not zero, then withdrawing a patient’s feeding tubes and allowing her to die from a lack of water and food means that whoever authorizes such a step may, depending on the circumstances, be murdering the patient. The odds against it being a murder are very high, but they are not 100%.

He proceeds to join blogcritic Denise Jones’s call for hijacking:

[I]gnoring [living wills] is often the right thing to do, because it is virtually impossible to write a living will that anticipates and makes decisions about all of the many, complicated, and hard to foresee illnesses you may face.

Wilson offers the example of an advanced Alzheimer’s patient whose advance directive dictates that his plug be pulled, although he now wishes to survive long enough to see his daughter’s imminent college graduation.

So Wilson has a better idea:

There is a document that is probably better than a living will, and that is a durable power of attorney that authorizes a person that you know and trust to make end-of-life decisions for you.

Having conjured his clever college graduation scenario to object to living wills, Wilson seems touchingly unaware that his own proposal is at least as vulnerable. Surely the man who commits oversights in designating his intentions in his own living will can just as easily blunder in handing the power to end his life to some other individual. I won’t insult the reader’s imagination by constructing scenarios. They are innumerable.

Wilson’s and Jones’s reasoning about the fallibility of human sovereignty has much broader applicability than just living wills. In the overeating, oversedated, excess-TV-watching nation of America, it would be very very easy to argue the case for jettisoning many other individual freedoms as well.

I did find a kindred spirit in Pete Blackwell, whose Starved for Logic, after a quick review of some of the tube-pushers’ malevolent rhetoric, points out that “Terri Schiavo’s slow starvation is more of an argument for euthanasia than against it.”

Indeed, it’s sad and silly that America is too intellectually immature to take active measures to end a life promptly once the decision to end it has been conclusively arrived at.

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About urielw

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    James Q is the none her who clearly and carefully chose his words to hide the truth. Asshole.

    I’m not sure if yo uknow this or not but Denise speaks more so – though perhaps equally with a religious foundation – from a position as a disabled person who thinks it quite likely that she may end up in a similar state.

    Forgive me for presuming to talk about you Denise; if I am inaccurate I apologize in advance.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    “James Q is the one here” … typos – that’ll be what kills me

  • Tristan

    MY brain has been liquefied for some 30 years from all my Wild turkey 101 —

    but I don’t see the media in a frenzy about yanking MY feeding tube–
    (on the other hand-some people at BC might want to do the “Pate thing” and insert a feeding tube to engorge my gullet, which at that point- instead of making pate from my swollen liver–might do as the Japanese were known to do in some POW camps: they would cut a hole in the POW’s stomach- insert a water hose-turn the water on until they had swollen his belly – then beat him across his blown-up belly with bamboo rods until ….????

    Hmmm…. THAT might be a very nice scenario for these child molesters/killers, eh ….

  • gonzo marx

    well now..i get Quoted..out of context to be certain..and told that i “err”…

    so let’s have a look , shall we?

    in the portion of my long dicussion with Denise that is quoted here, i am saying that “no recovery was possible”

    Uriel then goes on to state how both myself and an expert in the field are incorrect…

    Uriel sez..
    *Recovery from PVS [persistent vegetative state] can be defined in terms of recovery of consciousness and recovery of function…. [D]ata were collected for patients in PVS for more than 12 months, and these show almost no probability of recovery. The available data indicate that recovery of consciousness from post-traumatic PVS after 12 months in adults and children is unlikely. Recovery from nontraumatic PVS after 3 months is exceedingly rare in both adults and children. The above data are based on [well-designed clinical studies]. Several individual case reports … have described a few verified late recoveries of consciousness from traumatic (>12 months) or nontraumatic (>3 months) injury.*

    now this is him quoting another expert source for a medical Opinion..

    i would ask you, gentle Readers to not the 3 month and 12 months conditions to the Postulate as put forth by the Expert opinion cited by Uriel

    and remember, the case we are speaking about was after the duration of 15 YEARS

    to me, this negates any rational causal relationship with the case in question..most especially since the case in Question stems from the result of “traumatic” damage..and the history of CAT scans on the brain tissue bears stark evidence to support the positions of the Court appointed experts as well as the Opinion i put forth in my quoted statement

    so much for the Factual consistency of my stated Position…if i am shown to be in error by the upcoming autopsy, then i will publicly correct myself as i have done in the past when shown to be factually inaccurate..

    my entire Point during all these discussions on the subject matter has been consistently for each and every Individual to do what they can to ensure that their Will is made clear in a legally binding sense where it concerns the matter of their own Life and Death decisions..

    not ANYONE else’s thoughts on the matter are Relevent..i believe it is the Right of the Individual that is Paramount here..NOT any “well meaning” individual or group..

    if it is the Individual’s Will to be kept alive via any means medically possible..make that clear and legally binding..if on the other hand there is a definate point where the Individual Wills for Nature to take it’s course..then also make it clear

    in the case of the departed Mrs. Schiavo, my whole Position stems from the fact that the Court had ruled on the Will of the Individual, and that it had withstood the scrutiny of due process in accordance with the Rule of Law

    hopefully i have made myself clear and that this gives you, gentle Readers, some food for Thought

    decide for yourselves…and ensure you make your own Will known..no matter which Side you are on in this particualr Debate..

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • Denise Jones

    Thank you, Temple. You didn’t misrepresent me.

    I don’t intend to take up this gauntlet on this commentary, as I’ve had exchanges with everyone whose commented on my own, and pointless to rehash, I’ll just ask Uriel, if they deny that when Terri Schiavo made that statement, she had any knowledge or experience of living with a severe disability or if she made it as a hypothesis and no idea what the reality of it would be for her? And I’m not just talking about Terry Schiavo here, but all people who declare such as a perfectly able person, can anyone really have any idea what the experience would be like? And if they would in actual fact want to live or not?

    I’m sure we’ve all seen life stories at the movies of famous people who became disabled. They were raging bulls about it at first, and really didn’t want to live. Some of them tried to kill themselves. But once the emotional trauma had stabilized, and they adjusted, they no longer wanted to die, and often went onto accomplish more as a disabled person than they ever did as an able bodied one.

    But its also true to say that whoever they were, they died during the accident/illness that made them disabled. The old person they were died. But as biographies attest, the new lives were anything but dead.

    Imagaining a hypothetical situation, and experiencing it for real are two totally diametrically opposed things, for being able to have any real idea or grasp of living it.

  • http://urielw.com Uriel

    Gonzo charges I quoted him out of context but fails to hint how I might have misrepresented anything he said.

    He also persists in his error, maintaining that Schiavo’s recovery of awareness would have been IMPOSSIBLE.

    The expert statements I’ve seen refrain from such an absolute claim. They say highly unlikely, not impossible. For example, the New York Times reports:

    Patients who have suffered brain damage from oxygen deprivation – like Ms. Schiavo, whose heart briefly stopped in February 1990 – almost never recover if they have remained in a vegetative state for more than three months. Most neurologists who have examined Ms. Schiavo say she has been in a vegetative state for about 15 years.

    [Patients] in Ms. Schiavo’s category, whose brain damage was from lack of oxygen, almost never recover after three months.

    [I]n affidavits or testimony four [neurologists] agreed that she was in a persistent vegetative state and highly unlikely to recover.

    There have been at least four confirmed cases of patients with oxygen-related brain injuries like Ms. Schiavo’s who have recovered awareness after being declared effectively permanently vegetative. All four were young or middle-aged men who regained consciousness within two years of being declared persistently vegetative, and were partially paralyzed or severely disabled afterward.

    [Excerpt from “Schiavo’s Condition Holds Little Chance of Recovery,” New York Times, March 26, 2005.]

    The unlikely/impossible distinction is significant, since the Wall Street Journal editorial I quoted says: “If [chances of recovery] are not zero, then withdrawing a patient’s feeding tubes and allowing her to die from a lack of water and food means that whoever authorizes such a step may, depending on the circumstances, be murdering the patient.”

    More gonzo: “if i am shown to be in error by the upcoming autopsy, then i will publicly correct myself.”

    Autopsy results are irrelevant. We’re talking pre-death assessments, necessarily made without benefit of autopsy.

    Denise Jones maintains exactly the same absurd, outrageous, crazy position she held originally. Of course! No one ever changes their mind. I often wonder why we humans even bother communicating amongst ourselves. (See my Irreconcilable Differences.)

    Repeating her original point as if I’d failed to understand it, Jones insists that Schiavo’s expressed wishes to be allowed to die should be rejected because she didn’t know what she was saying.

    The arrogance is monumental, limitless, staggering. Jones declares herself better able to judge what’s good for a person than the person herself. And she’s warning others not to “play God”!

    The Bush regime has often given rise to warnings of the U.S. becoming a theocracy. Denise Jones reminds us of the unscalable heights of hypocrisy and illogic that would be controlling our lives if such warnings were borne out.

  • gonzo marx

    well hello Uriel..

    my only point of concern was that , while i was flattered you used my words as a Quote (i appreciate the direct nature of it when used in Discussion), i was dismayed that what you had quoted from me did not make the full Point i was attempting to communicate..

    i still have only a minor difficulty in your statements…to wit..

    Uriel sez…
    *There have been at least four confirmed cases of patients with oxygen-related brain injuries like Ms. Schiavo’s who have recovered awareness after being declared effectively permanently vegetative. All four were young or middle-aged men who regained consciousness within two years of being declared persistently vegetative, and were partially paralyzed or severely disabled afterward.*

    all the cases you have quoted here form your Source material agree that EACH of said patients had been in the state for 2 years or less..NOT 15, or anywhere near it…also, you neglet the CAT scan evidence which clearly shows the huge portions of the brain that are NO LONGER there…not non-functional..but no longer brain tissue by definition as understood by medical science..

    Uriel sez..
    *Autopsy results are irrelevant. We’re talking pre-death assessments, necessarily made without benefit of autopsy.*

    i made mention of the autopsy only as Proof towards the validity of the medical prognosis made by the Court appointed experts..

    i am taking it you will grant that this will, indeed, be the final arbiter of whose medical facts are accurate?

    i Postulate that the autopsy results will bear out the accuracy of the facts as i stated..if i am proven wrong..then i will publicly correct myself just as publicly as i have made my statements and conjectures

    so..i persist in maintaining that i have not made any Faxtual error as you have been able to demonstrate, since the only source material you have shown comes from a small sample of case studies that are less than one seventh the duration of the origninal..and also do NOT show that the extent of the damage done to the branis of these cases comes anywher enear the devastation that has been shown in Mrs. Schiavo’s quite public CAT scans

    my whole point is that these matters are best left to the Individual and/or thei rlegal guardian of record…but a Living Will is the overall optimal soloution…

    so again, i refute your statements as being factually inconsistent with the matters at hand…

    as for your picking on Denise..i would ask that you maintain a civil tone, especially since a modicum of Research on your part should show the degenerative condition she is in brings this matter far closer to her personally than i, for one, would ever care to be..

    do as you Will…i leave it to you, gentle Readers to determine whether your humble Narrator, or the one named for “the fire of god” has his factual “ducks” in a row

    either way…this Debate runs central to many tenets of Ethics and Beliefs..i persists in stating that it should be the Choice of an Individual..

    your mileage may vary….

    Excelsior!