Two or Three (.net)

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More interesting media thoughts

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

It is telling to see who the media thinks has a conflict of intrest and who they think is an objective observer.

If you are a Christian and part of a bioethics committee made up of Christians who do not support doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, then I am sorry your opinion on the Terri Schiavo case is tainted and unwanted.

However, if you have spoken to the Hemlock Society, a doctors group favoring doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia, are member of the board of directors of the Choice in Dying Society, a similar group with similar goals and call those who disagree with you "bogus" and a "fanatic," then you are just who the New York Times is looking for.

Isn't that interesting?


  • Just a few words from the other side:

    While we at American Council on Science and Health have been determined to remain on the sidelines of the raging national debate about the fate of Terri Schiavo (this is largely a legal and ethical issue, not a scientific one), we cannot remain silent about the outrageous misrepresentation of scientific facts about this case that has been occurring in the past ten days.

    The medical reality of Ms. Schiavo's case is this: She has been in what is medically referred to as a "permanent vegetative state" for the past 15 years, ever since her heart temporarily stopped (probably due to the severe effects of an eating disorder), depriving her brain of oxygen. Brain scans indicate that her cerebral cortex ceased functioning -- probably just after she experienced cardiac arrest in 1990. Ms. Schiavo's CAT scan shows massive shrinking of the brain, and her EEG is flat. Physicians confirm that there is no electrical activity coming from her brain. While the family video repeatedly shown on television suggests otherwise, her non-functioning cortex precludes cognition, including any ability to interact or communicate with people or show any signs of awareness. Dozens of experts over the years who have examined Ms. Schiavo agree that there is no hope of her recovering -- even though her body, face and eyes (if she is given food and hydration) might continue to move for decades to come.

    Those are the harsh facts.

    Thus it was shocking that Sen. Bill Frist -- a heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader -- went to the Senate floor twice last week to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state." How did Frist arrive at this diagnosis? From watching the family videotapes.

    Frist's comments were picked up by journalists, including FoxNews's Fred Barnes, who cited Sen. Frist as an authority in a debate with Morton Kondracke on "The Beltway Boys" last week.

    Yesterday, there was another public challenge to Ms. Schiavo's well-established diagnosis: Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that a "very renowned neurologist," Dr. William Cheshire, had concluded that Terri had been misdiagnosed and that she was really only in a state of "minimal consciousness" rather than a persistent vegetative state. He used this "new diagnosis" to argue that "this new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action."

    As it turns out, Dr. Cheshire is not "renowned" as a neurologist -- his limited publications focus on areas including headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research. Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo, nor did he do neurological tests. Dr. Cheshire is director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a nonprofit group founded by "more than a dozen leading Christian bioethicists." Everyone is free to be guided by a personal agenda -- and it is clear that Dr. Cheshire has his.

    Let's call tripe when tripe is served. All of us are entitled to our own personal views on the Schiavo case, what her fate should be, and who should make decisions for her. But all of us should be united in rejecting politically-generated junk science.

    -Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan is president and founder of the American Council on Science and Health. She is a life-long Republican.


    "Here's the question I ask of these right-to-lifers, including Vatican bishops: as we enter into Holy Week and we proclaim that death is not triumphant and that with the power of resurrection and the glory of Easter we have the triumph of Christ over death, what are they talking about by presenting death as an unmitigated evil? It doesn’t fit Christian context. Richard McCormick, who was the great Catholic moral theologian of the last 25 years, wrote a brilliant article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1974 called "To Save or Let Die." He said there are two great heresies in our age (and heresy is a strong word in theology — these are false doctrines). One is that life is an absolute good and the other is that death is an absolute evil. We believe that life was created and is a good, but a limited good. Therefore the obligation to sustain it is a limited one. The parameters that mark off those limits are your capacities to function as a human."
    - Jesuit theologian Rev John J. Paris, on how the religious right is deploying heresy in its absolutism in the Terri Schiavo case. I couldn't agree more. What some of these people are about is not respect for life, but its fetishization.

    By Blogger Louis, at 3/24/2005 1:40 PM  

  • Louis, I am glad you are back! I have missed you and your thought provoking comments!

    As to our previous conversation, the post in question has been edited in case you haven't seen it.

    As to your comments, I am not sure how this doctor can blast Cheshire for not examining Terri, when she herself (I am assuming) has not either.

    There are doctors who says she is in a PVS and some say she isn't. Why err on killing the lady by starvation?

    About the Jesuit theologian's comment, I would agree with him to an extent. Death has lost it's sting because of Christ's victory over it. We do not have to fear death, but that does not give us the right to decide for ourselves or someone else when that time should come, especially in instances when there is doubt. When someone is on a ventilator and dozens of other machines and wires that keep them breathing and beating, then we can have this discussion. But I just can't see having it about starving a woman to death. Just because Death is no longer victorious over Christians does not mean we should all go out and kill ourselves.

    But again Louis, I am very glad you are back!

    By Blogger Aaron, at 3/24/2005 1:57 PM  

  • "There are doctors who says she is in a PVS and some say she isn't. Why err on killing the lady by starvation?"

    No, almost all of the doctors who have examined her (including court-appointed independent doctors), performing tests and scans, have agreed that she is in a hopeless & irreversable vegetative state. Scans have shown that her cerebal cortex (the seat of "higher" brain function - the self) has liquified, is no longer there. Only the basic "animal" functions continue. In effect, she died 15 years ago! The author merely speaks for the scientific community.

    There is no there there.

    I, myself, think that it is cruel to insist that this poor woman be kept artificially "alive." She has gone. She is no longer there. Even 40 years ago, she would have died after her heart-attack and brain damage. It is only modern technology that keeps her (and others like her) "alive." I think that she died 15 years ago, that God called her then, and that this irrational insistence that her heart be kept beating is against his will.

    It is not "murder" or "suicide" to refuse extreme measures such as the medical procedure of inserting a feeding tube in a hopeless case. It is compassion. The medical profession, I think, often has an extreme position in keeping people who would otherwise die alive. Also, it seems to me that religious conservatives do as well. I can only express how I would want to be treated in like situation: I would NOT want such extreme measures. It fills me with horror to contemplate Terry's fate at the hands of medicine and her family. And I cannot understand how they would want to inflict it on her.

    It also fills me with horror that portions of our government currently in control feel that it is fine to intervene in such an intimate personal situation. The theocratic right, the current Republican party, evidently feels it can interpose itself in our private lives - because God says so! Real conservatives views such big government paternalism with horror. It frightens me that our government believes it can impose itself on my private life to this extent: that strangers can interfere in my private life using the government to impose their beliefs on me!

    I can understand why others would want to continue in the face of scientific evidence: it's a moral and religious position to which they are entitled. Though I disagree with them, I respect their right to their opinion. However, using our government to impose their opinion is wrong.

    Also, I agree with the priest quoted by Andrew. I just cannot understand why avowed Christians would go to such extreme lengths to keep this poor woman from being released from her suffering. I would not want it for myself or my loved ones. Death is nothing to be feared. It is a realease to the love and mercy of God. Her family and partisans declare themselves to be Christians. How, then, can they take this course? It beggars belief. And it is more evidence for me that Christianity, as it is practiced by most of its adherents, is absurd.

    btw: Forgiveness is a Buddhist as well as a Christian virtue. Thus, my reappearance. Also, you guys need a reality check.

    By Blogger Louis, at 3/24/2005 4:11 PM  

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