Sunday, March 20, 2005

TBO Asks Us Not to Believe Our Eyes

Although video like that shown on Terri's Fight shows Terri Schiavo to have apparent responses to her surroundings, Tampa Bay Online asks us to ignore this in light of other video:
Less widely known are four hours of images, taped in summer 2002, of Schiavo's inert stare from her hospice bed. They more accurately show the Pinellas Park woman, argue some doctors and Michael Schiavo, who says his wife is brain-dead and should die in dignity after 15 years in what doctors term a persistent vegetative state.

George Greer, a Pasco-Pinellas circuit judge, ruled the tapes fail to prove Terri Schiavo's brain still works.

"She clearly does not consistently respond to her mother," the judge wrote in 2002 after hearing from five doctors with divided opinions. "The court finds that based on the credible evidence, cognitive function would manifest itself in a constant response to stimuli."
Re-read that passage above. Notice that the burden of evidence is to prove that a patient has sufficient brain function to justify contined existence, not sufficient damage to warrant slow starvation. TBO doesn't feel the need to ask why a brief period of unresponsiveness is more compelling than a briefer period of interaction. Applying this logic, if your aged, declining mother has dementia or decreased function, you should look to her condition on her worst day, rather than her best, when trying to decide whether to have her euthanized. TBO could even publish tips for would-be mercy killers, such as "seek her out after exhausting physical therapy. If she is unresponsive in her fatigue, begin videotaping, and present results to sympathetic judge."
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