The fight over Terry Shiavo's life has caused me to have a bit of a rethink with regard to euthanasia.
I am now in agreement with Florida Governor Jeb Bush's decision to reinstate fluids in order to keep her alive. At first, I didn't see how devious the husband, Michael - whom I originally defended - was.
Even though Terri Schiavo has been in a vegetative state for 14 years, that fact does not excuse the Florida Supreme Court for striking down the edict issued by Governor Bush last autumn. Furthermore, if Terri's feeding tube is removed, she will starve to death. What kind of a way is that to die?
The FSC obviously agreed with my initial opinion on the case. I had written:
"I believe it was unconstitutional. This legislation was crammed through at the 11th hour and the move looks very doubtful when held up against the litmus test of liberty that is the Constitution."
Chief Justice Barbara Pariente wrote for the court: "It is without question an invasion of the authority of the judicial branch for the Legislature to pass a law that allows the executive branch to interfere with the final judicial determination in a case. That is precisely what occurred here."
Going back to Michael Schiavo, his concern for Terri's right to die is motivated by pure self-interest. He left Terri for another woman whom he had children with. It has become clear to me that Mr. Schiavo does not have Terri's best interest at heart and should be ruled unfit to pursue the matter of removing her feeding tube.
Florida law allows for the execution of one's wishes, even if orally expressed. Terri has not done so, and it can safely be assumed that she has expressed her desire in remaining alive to her parents.
And, Lord, believe me, I do not want to see legal euthanasia based on the Dutch model. Witness:
In 1991, in an effort to come to grips with the actual medical practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the Dutch Government established a government commission, headed by Professor Jan Remmelink to study the problem. The Remmelink Report opened the eyes of both the people of the Netherlands and the world to the extent of the practice of euthanasia in Holland. Remmelink found that 49,000 of the 130,000 deaths in the Netherlands each year were not natural but involved a "medical decision at the end of life" or MDEL. 95% of these MDEL cases involve, in equal numbers, either withholding treatment/discontinuing life support or the alleviation of pain and symptoms through medication that might hasten death. This latter (alleviating pain and symptoms) category accounted for approx. 20,000 deaths that had been hastened by a physicians decision. Actual euthanasia, using the official Dutch definition, occurred in 2,300 cases or 2% of all Dutch deaths. Dutch physicians helped 400 patients who requested suicide, for either mental illness or discomfort, to kill themselves in 1990. The alarming statistics of the Remmelink Report indicate that in thousands of cases decisions that might or were intended to end a fully competent patient's life were made without consulting the patient. (Emphasis mine.)
Having said that, I still think we need a system in place, with checks and balances, where a terminally ill patient can, him or herself, decide whether they want the plug pulled or not. We do it for animals, why can't we do it for humans? Terri should be the one to end this whole affair by declaratively stating herself what she wants with no interference from either the state or the "husband" - just her doctors, her closest family members and herself.