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Terri Schiavo

edited March 2005 in Buddhism Today
I post this because it's become such a big news issue now and I keep seeing things about it everywhere.

I think honestly it's really insanity that groups of people, congress, and now the senate are fighting this man for the fate of his wife when it has been proven in court that she wouldn't want to live in a 'vegitative state'. I don't understand how all these "pro life" advocates can consider this living, especially when it goes against the will of the person in question.

I guess it may seem kind of cold, but, why do all these people who don't even know these people want to get involved with it and try to stop him from doing what she would have wanted for herself. I could even understand the parents fighting over it but now congress and the senate are going to great lengths to make it illegal (even considering PASSING A LAW before monday) for this man to do what he knows his wife would like.

This is a good article about the whole thing

It's a sad story, but, let the woman have her dignity.


  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    I am a firm believer in the concept that if a person cannot live in a totally natural state, then it is perfectly acceptable to let them die naturally. I'm sure this is a horrible ordeal for her parents and family, and I for one could not possibly imagine myself in their situation. If my child was on life support and it was up to me whether to pull the plug, I would most likely be in serious denial that my child could never have a natural, healthy life. That's probably what her parents are going through right now.

    What's really happening is her parents' attachment to their daughter is causing suffering.

    Death of the body is a perfectly natural event, just as birth. They are preventing the natural flow of things, to what end? It's horrible. Terry said she wouldn't want to live like this. Her wish should be granted. Nobody will be "killing her" by removing her feeding tube. Nature is going to take its course and if she is going to live, she will live. If she's going to die, she will die.

    What bothers me the most is that somehow the fricking president got involved. That really irks me for some reason.
  • LincLinc Site owner Detroit Moderator
    edited March 2005
    Actually, I don't much care about the pro-life/vegatative part of the debate. I'd have to say I agree with Brian, but I'm certainly not up in arms about. It seems there is a bit of gray area about what her husband is doing. I heard something about him refusing to allow physical therapy for her to try and regain abilities. Anyway, I digress:

    What I think is absolutely ridiculous is that the Republican party, the party of conservative government influence and states rights, is leading an effort to undermine the state courts of Florida! Not only are they renouncing the main part of the party platform I actually agree with sometimes, they're bound and determined to create a Constitutional crisis on top of it! Congress doesn't have the authority to interfere with state affairs in this way, and they sure as HELL can't issue subpoenas to undermine state court orders!

  • edited March 2005
    Sure its perfectly acceptable to let her die naturally. But from my understanding they are going to let her STARVE TO DEATH. Definately NOT the right approach in her situation.

    Think about how painful a death it would be to starve or dehydrate to death.

    A more apropriate method would be to administer a lethal dose of an opiate like pharmaceuticle. That way she would experience a more warm confortable death.

    But if she has stated that she does not want to live in a state of vegitation, then by all means. Grant her last wish.

    I would not want to live as a vegitable either, and would prefer the method I stated above over starving or thirsting to death any day.
  • edited March 2005
    Wow. I hadn't much cared or understood the situation, as I don't really watch the news (it's always negative, why bother most of the time?). But I did follow that link a2j posted.

    See, I had thought she was truly vegetative, like everyone is saying. But she's not. She's concious. And even if she isn't, if those reactions are just automatic responses triggered by nerves with no overall awareness (which I doubt), then starvation is not the way to do it.

    That would be like if you were born with something where you couldn't use your mouth to chew. For years and years, we decide to feed you, keep you alive. Then one day (when money happens to abound), we screw you. "Nah, it's not like s/he'll care anyway..."

    What the hell? I agree with FF/shannon, if she was truly vegetative and if she had requested to not live like that (of which there is no physical proof, from what I've heard), then yes, grant her wish. But not by effing starving her! That has to be one of the slowest, most painful ways to go. Especially if she's still aware enough to realize it.
  • LincLinc Site owner Detroit Moderator
    edited March 2005
    Continuing on my political-bentness, check this out. ABC did a poll on whether people thought the government overstepped its bounds.

    Liberals: 34% agreed with action, 62% thought too far
    Moderates: 29 to 67
    Conservatives : 48 to 49


    Conservatives thought government should be MORE interfering, and Liberals thought it should be LESS interfering. The world is upsidedown! This is just the clincher for me that the current party systems are now based more on so-called "social issues" than they are on actual government functions in business, healthcare, etc.
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    From A2JFreak @ short-media forums, reposted by me with his permission

    This is NOT my opinion. My answer to this will be in the next post:

    Make your own decision as to whether Terri Schiavo is a vegetable or not.

    My opinion is that she is clearly not a vegetable and to starve her is not only murder it is beyond cruel and inhumane.

    Go to Terri's Fight and view videos of her.
    One can easily see that she is not a vegetable.
    We believe the following videos clips give stunning testimony to Terri's awareness. These are in Real Media format.

    I disagree with the word "stunning" as Terri does appear vegetable-like, but she clearly is not a vegetable. She responds to a swab in her mouth. She responds to a balloon. She appears to respond to a verbal command "open your eyes."

    Also, check out some myths some have about Terri.
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    My response to A2JFreak:

    Her Guardian Ad Litem, Dr. Jay Wolfson, spent hours and hours a day with her, and in the end suggested that she was indeed in a PVS. I'm sorry to say, Adam, that I did watch the videos that her family posted and yet I still firmly believe that she is a total vegetable. Those "reactions" were not that - they were involuntary and random.

    You can read Dr. Wolfson's full report here at

    Look, I know this is painful. I can't imagine what her family is going through. However, from the outside it's somewhat easy to see that they are just sadly obsessed with keeping their daughter "alive" at any cost.

    Listen to Dr Wolfson's commentary on NPR this afternoon. Especially the part where an attorney asked her parents if they would keep her alive if she had to have her limbs amputated for medical reasons, etc. They are obsessed. She would be a torso, a head, a set of lungs, a heart, and some muscles. Not much more. Yes, technically she's "alive", but there is nothing there. Imagine how tortuous it is for Terry. People seem to be more interested in what's "right and wrong" without talking about maybe how she would feel, or how YOU would feel if you were in her state.

    My cousin was shot point-blank in the head, and was in a PVS for days. Trust me when I say there is just... nothing there. It is not a human anymore, and is not the person you love. It is just a shell. Our attachment to the "shell" and the "movement" can cause a great, intense amount of suffering. However, we need to be strong and realize the reality of the sitation.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited March 2005
    This is obviously an extremely sensitive and painful issue for so many people, that while everyone has free will, opinions, and personal judgements, a solution to which everyone agrees will never be reached. In Buddhism, the goal is the attainment of Nirvana through the release of attachment to everything transitory and impermanent. (nutshell analysis, but go with me here.....!) This can take many lifetimes, or one instant, to attain. Where, on her journey, is this woman at? If our pet dog was in the same condition, would we not be considered humane for "doing the right thing"? The difference between a dog and a human being - many will cry in argument - is that the human is a sentient being with a soul and a conscience. The Moral gets woven in inextricably with the Logical - or Illogical. Emotion is the guiding force here, and it is precisely in this kind of situation that Emotion should not be the deciding factor. Try telling that to the senate....... :(
  • edited March 2005
    I am pro live. I also believe that suffering is due to karma.

    I am sad that Ms Terri Schiavo is in such a state but let us allow nature to take it’s cause. The only decent way for her to die is to die naturally. If her parent can felt her heartbeat and think that she is alive, she is alive. If her parent wants to take up the responsibility of looking after her, let them do it.

    If she is brain dead as the doctor concluded, she won't be able to feel the suffering anyway.
    So keep her alive and keep the parent hope of her recovery alive.
    And finally, let her live through her karma so that she will be born again without any residually effect.

    My 2cents
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    I'm confused about one part of your post, datapoly:
    datapoly wrote:
    The only decent way for her to die is to die naturally

    but then you say:
    datapoly wrote:
    So keep her alive and keep the parent hope of her recovery alive.

    My interpretation is that to let her die naturally means let her live without the machines and see what happens. If her karma is such that she needs to live longer in this body, she will live. If it is such that her karma mandates a rebirth, this body will die quickly.

    So, do you think she should be taken off the machines, or kept on? I don't understand.
  • edited March 2005
    I think she should not be taken off the machine; she will surely die, no doubt.
    To plug off the tube and see whether she would live is as good as pushing her down the cliff to decide whether she will survive her karma.
    Not logical isn't it.

    What is the fuss about living on support system? You have pacemaker for people with heart problem and ‘shit bag’ for people who have their colon remove.

    One area to take note is :

    1. She is suppose to be unconscious or brain death, she wouldn’t feel happy if the tube is off, nor will she feel painful if the tube is on. BUT
    2. Her parent is conscious and will feel the pain of her dismissal. so why destroy all their hope when they are willing to look after her?
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    Let me make my position clear on this: I think Terri should be fed. Letting her starve to death is sickening. It is the wrong way to go about it. However, I also believe that her wishes should be maintained. I fully support euthanasia and I believe that she is a proper candidate for it.

    On the machine, she will probably live for years and years. Many people ask why her husband won't just divorce her and be done with it (give responsibility to her parents) - and he won't. I believe that the reason why he won't is because he is absolutely certain that his wife would not want to "live" in a PVS. She stated that to him. His conviction in this matter is what convinces me. It would be much easier for him to just divorce her and let her parents "deal with it"- but he must love her so much that he will fight for her right to die till the very end.
  • edited March 2005
    Thsi whole issue is truly sad.

    What makes it even sadder is how the Republican party in the US is jumping on the bandwagon with this issue to score points with their voters:

    ABC News obtained talking points circulated among Senate Republicans explaining why they should vote to intervene in the Schiavo case. Among them, that it is an important moral issue and the "pro-life base will be excited," and that it is a "great political issue -- this is a tough issue for Democrats."

    Nice. Let's co-opt a nearly brain-dead woman's sad story so we can make points with our pro-life voting base and make the Democrats look bad...
    When asked about these talking points on "Good Morning America," (House Majority Leader ) DeLay said, "I don't know where those talking points come from, and I think they're disgusting."

    That's because you are a Congressman, Mr. DeLay, they were only circulated amongst the Senators. So if you are so disgusted, why not launch a congressional inquiry into which Republican strategist published this to the Republican Senators. Like that will ever happen....

    If this "talking points" memo is true, anyone who voted Republican should hang their heads in shame that their party would seek to make poltical capital from this poor woman's situation. Despicable.

    Ok, on to the Schiavo situation. Folks, the woman is basically dead. She has no cognitive skills, no real sensation, no intellect, no personality, no memory. The only part of her brain that did not die is the part that makes her lungs move and her heart beat. Beyond that, she is a vegetable.

    There are people who say "but I saw video of her moving and appearing to respond to stimulus, clearly she is not a vegetable." Some comments to that effect were posted earlier in this thread.

    That's just ridiculous. You watched 5 video clips of a few seconds each, and that makes you better educated and informed on the topic than the DOZENS of doctors who have spent HOURS and HOURS with her over 15 YEARS?? A few little video clips and you know more about her situation than some top neurologists in the country? Do those few seconds of video somehow make you smarter than the 20 JUDGES who have each reviewed this case, examined the INFORMED and UNBIASED expert medical testimony of the aforementioned DOZENS of doctors??

    Anyone who looks at those video clips and says "oh, look, she's clearly not a vegetable" is easily fooled. I have worked in TV and video for 18 years and it still amazes me how easily people are fooled or misled or misguided by a couple of simple video clips. There are some important facts that they don't tell you on Terry's family's website:

    - those clips were taken in 2001. They are 4 years old. Terry's condition has not gotten one single bit better in 4 years.

    - those clips are a few seconds cherry-picked from over 4 HOURS of videotaping. For 4 hours they poked, prodded, pinched, and yelled at Terry. From that, they got a few seconds here and there of her "appearing to respond" to stimuli.

    - Those reactions have not really been duplicated since, partly because Michael has requested that his wife not be poked, prodded, pinched and yelled at any more. He wants some dignity for his wife. Look, when the accident first happened, he put her in agressive therapy for months. She did not respond or get any better. He accepted her fate. It's too bad her family cannot do the same.

    Doctor's have tried to get her to respond, before and after those clips were shot. I think their expert medical opinion is somewhat more important than a couple of very carefully chosen seconds of video that is being misconstrued to make her look like she still has a functioning brain.

    The Schindler family wants people to see those clips, and be fooled into thinking that Terry's brain is still functioning. They are trying to win the "court of public opinion", because they know they cannot and will not win in the real courts based on unbiased expert medical opinion and unbiased expert legal opinion.

    As his been pointed out, those responses are REFLEXIVE. The body can respond reflexively to stimuli even when the brain is functioning at a very low level. 98% of her brain is dead. The 2% left alive is the autonomic system, the part that controls breathing and heart beating, and, reflexive action.

    Terry has an estimated IQ of about 2. I think part of the problem for people who do not understand this stuff is the use of the word "vegetable." If they poke a carrot, the carrot does not move. Then they watch people poke Terry, and she moves, and they say "Ah hah! She moved. Clearly she is not a vegetable." The medical use of the word vegetable is actually frowned on, they refer to her condition as PVS - Persistent Vegetative State:;jsessionid=37pc9nplemoji?method=4&dsid=2222&dekey=Persistent+vegetative+state&gwp=8&curtab=2222_1&sbid=lc01b
    A persistent vegetative state (or PVS) is a condition of patients with severe brain damage in whom coma has progressed to a state of "wakefulness without awareness". The term was introduced by two doctors in 1972 to describe a syndrome that seemed to have been made possible by medicine's increased capacities to keep patients' bodies alive. A persistent vegetative state is not the same as coma.

    Patients in a persistent vegetative state are usually considered to be unconscious and unaware. They may experience sleep-wake cycles, or be in a state of chronic wakefulness. They may exhibit some behaviors that can be construed as arising from partial consciousness, such as grinding their teeth, swallowing, smiling, shedding tears, grunting, moaning, or screaming without any apparent external stimulus. They are unresponsive to external stimuli, except, possibly, pain stimuli.

    As you see, it is part of the condition that they will have some reflex driven or uncontrolled behaviours, and will respond to painful stimuli. If you push a swab inside someone's mouth, that is uncomfortable to the body, and the body will reflexively move to try and change that condition.

    So, if you have a problem understanding the term vegetable, then think of the word SLUG. If you poke a slug, will it respond in some way? Pretty good for an organism with NO BRAIN. If you poke an bug, will it reflexively respond in some way? Yes and, the important thing to note here is that even insects have a bigher degree of brain function than Terry.

    The woman is dead. A small part of her brain just has not figured it out yet.

    Terry's parents want to believe she can recover. The image of Terry's brain scan has been widely circulated. She has a skull full of fluid. The average human skull can hold around 1400cc of fluid. 1400 cc of fluid is roughly 6 cups of fluid, weighing about 2 pounds or so.

    The human brain cannot withstand the weight and pressure of 2 pounds of fluid. It will be crushed beyond repair. Terry's brain has been crushed. It is mush.

    The only way for Terry to get any better is if they can grow her a new brain. They can't. There is only one way medical science can even hope to begin to research how to re-grow brain cells: to conduct research with the only types of cells known to be able to cause the growth of new cells of any type in te human body. These are called STEM CELLS. Sound familiar?

    Yep, those very same stem cells that the neo-conservatives, religious fundamentalists and Republicans were so passioinate about banning research into. THE PEOPLE IN THE GENERAL AMERICAN PUBLIC WHO ARE CRYING ABOUT REMOVING TERRY'S FEEDING TUBE ARE THE SAME ONES WHO HAVE BLOCKED HER ONLY CHANCE AT GETTING BETTER. Though, the reality is, even if the anti-stem cell people pull their heads out of their arses any time in the near future, it is still going to take decades and decades before we could grow new brain cells to an extent that we could repair a brain. Terry's body will expire regardless long before then if they keep her on the feeding tube. And even if they can grow her a new brain, then what? Everything that made her Terry is gone. Her personality, memories, intellect...all gone.

    I've got so much more to rant on about this topic and the foolish hypocrisy of the people who want to keep Terry's tube in, but I'm out of time. But let me just say this. If anyone thinks that Pres. Bush and his Republicans are not being hyprocrites about this, consider the following fact:

    - while Governor of Texas, Bush signed into a law a bill which made it legal for hospitals to PULL A FEEDING TUBE from a patient, AGAINST THEIR FAMILY'S WISHES, if that patient COULD NO LONGER AFFORD TO PAY FOR MEDICAL CARE!

    That's right. If you are broke in Texas, and your family cannot afford to pay for your medical care any more, the hospital can yank your feeding tube and you get to watch your loved one die against your wishes, thanks to GW Bush and the great state of Texas.

    But now, as President, Bush cuts his vacation short to sign emergency legislation to bump Terry's case up to a federal court, citing how "every life is sacred."


    Why is Bush being such a hypocrite?

    Is it the huge glaring spotlight of media attention on this case??

    I repeat the earlier quoted news story: "the pro-life base will be excited," and that it is a "great political issue -- this is a tough issue for Democrats."

    Sad. Very sad.

    At least this morning, a Federal judge has upheld the 19 previous rulings, and ruled that the Shindler family has failed to show that the Federal court has any constitutional right to overturn the state decision, or to show that there is any reasonable hope of Terry's condition ever improving. Maybe now this woman can die in relative peace.

    Brian, I agree with you on the merciful euthanization issue, but that is not likely happen in North America in the next couple of decades. They can't put her peacefully to death, but they can let her slowly starve. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?


  • edited March 2005
    Here is the answer. Take the insurance money ($1 million I have heard) that the husband who has started a new family with another woman would get and use that to keep her alive until it is gone. Then both side loose out and we can forget this whole mess. BTW anyone know who is paying for the last 14 YEARS in the hospital? That's right, health insurance premiums. Yours, mine, and everybody's. If the husband didn't stand to gain so much by his wife dying, I would say that she should be put to death, not left to die, wondering why she is so terribly hungry, assuming that she understands hunger. The whole situation sucks but it looks like she won't make it past next week at this point.

    Callus, I know but seriously, there are so many people trying to jockey for position on this issue, it makes me sick just thinking about it. I would love to see a karma chart on everyone involved and see how the decisions they have made are reflected in their destiny.
  • edited March 2005
    Justin, that money was awarded in 1992. That was 13 years ago. What makes you think any of that is left?

    The fact is that some of that money went toward medical expenses. A good chunk of it, however, went towards the enormous legal costs that Michael has incurred to fight Terry's parents. Terry's family complain that he has "blown" the settlement money on legal fees, yet they are the ones who have pursued litigation, appeal after appeal after appeal, to try to overturn his legal right to see Terry's wishes followed. If they were so concerned about the money going towards medical costs, why did they force him into court?

    What does he "stand to gain" by her dying? Freedom from his marriage? Dude, if that is all he wanted, he would have divorced her years ago.

    On some level, you have to admire this guy. How easy would it have been to just wash his hands of it, divorce her, and walk away, settle down with his fiancee and their 2 children? Even now, some millionaire has offered him $1 million to do exactly that: divorce her, walk away and he will sign a cheque for Michael. Why does he not do that, if, as all his detractors say, all he wants is for Terry to die so he can have a new family? He already has a new family, in all but the legal sense. Why not take the million, divorce her, and be set for life with your new family? Surely his fiancee must not like the fact that her lover and the father of her two children is still very publicly married to another woman??

    Why does he not just divorce Terry?

    Because he made a vow: in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, until death do us part. And because he *knows* that Terry would not want to be kept alive like this, and if he divorces her, guardianship passes back to her parents, and they will keep her alive like this. He has stayed married to her, at the EXPENSE of his own life and new family, to see her wishes honoured.

    And anyone who faults him for having a new family needs to give their heads a shake. If Terry's family had not spent the last 8 years trying to usurp his legal right to see her wishes through, Terry would have been officially deceased over 8 years ago, and Michael would be married to his new love.

    I can't help but admire the steadfastness of this man to do what he knows his wife wanted.

  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    Just as an aside: I am really tired of the news media showing that one picture that makes it seem as if Terri is gazing lovingly into her mother's face and smiling. It is specifically designed to provoke sympathy and a reaction of "oh look, that's no vegetable!" It's shameful.
  • BrianBrian Detroit, MI Moderator
    edited March 2005
    So what does everyone think about this latest thing where her sister and aunt claim that she has stated her wish to live by saying "aaaah waaaaa"? They state she is saying "I want to live".

    Of course, to me, that is ridiculous. I still don't think they should be starving the poor thing to death though.
  • edited March 2005,2933,151454,00.html

    I wonder how she would respond if people yelled at her:

    "Terry, say I WANT A KICK IN THE HEAD!" 20 or 30 times in row.

    I'd bet one of those times she would say "ahhhh wahhhhh" as well...

    The family and their lawyers are trying anything they can to get their way. I wonder if Terry really made any noises like this and they are just "hearing" what they want to hear, or if they are just plain lying because they are so desperate? I mean, really, this is all they have left, to try to introduce some stunning new factor into evidence, because all of the old evidence has gone in favour of letting Michael enact what he believes his wife's wishes were. They have no appeal left based on anything that has happened before, they even fabricated allegations of abuse and those were disproven, so they have to try a new angle to get a new appeal.

    Still sad....

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited March 2005
    Did anyone know that this is legal in Holland....?

    and also apparently, in switzerland these past 40 years...... :confused:
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