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Author Topic: Terri Schiavo  (Read 11886 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 22, 2005, 01:08:02 PM »

I emailed the OCA office about their "take" on the Schiavo case:

Quote
Dear Harry,

Thank you for your enquiry.

YOU WRITE:  What is the current position of the Orthodox Church in America
on the case of Terri Schiavo?
RESPONSE:  The Church has not issued an "official position" in this matter
because the principles of the Church offer a starting point for a response.
We affirm that, while it is morally and ethically wrong to pursue
extraordinary/unnatural methods to end a life, it is equally morally and
ethnically wrong to pursue extraordinary/unnatural methods to prolong a
life, especially in the case of individuals who are brain dead or in an
irreversible vegetative state.  The problem in the Schiavo case is that
there is no consensus as to her condition -- is she brain dead, which seems
unlikely since she is responsive on some level, or is she aware yet totally
uncommunicative?  Because it is impossible, even within the medical
establishment, to ascertain her exact state, it is impossible to determine
exactly how the principle of the Church would be applied.

YOU WRITE:  If there is one, is there any reason as to why a statement
hasn't been made, either via memo or website?
RESPONSE:  Yes.  It is not the custom of the Church to issue pronouncements
on every possible social, moral, ethical, political, etc. issue, especially
those in which the Church is not directly involved or in which there is a
great amount of "gray area," as in the Schiavo case.  The practice of the
Church is to affirm its principles in such instances and to draw the obvious
conclusions therefrom.  Again, in this particular matter, the "gray area" is
vast.  Is Mrs. Schiavo brain dead or not, is she responsive at least
partially or not, was it indeed her wish to be relieved from such a
condition or not -- all questions that must be considered before one can
determine whether removing her feeding tube would constitute an
extraordinary/unnatural means of hastening death --  would need to be
objective answered before an objective and definitive conclusion may be
drawn.  It would be my opinion, based on the Church's principles, that until
it is clearly and absolutely determined that she wished to be relieved from
her condition, as her husband claims in opposition to that which her parents
claim, and until it is clearly and absolutely determined that she is
irreversibly brain dead, for which the medical establishment has offered no
consensus, that she should remain on the feeding tube.  I emphasize that
this is my personal opinion, based on the aforementioned principles, and not
necessarily the "official position" of the Church.

Hope this helps.

In Christ,
Father John Matusiak, OCA Communications Department

Amazing how complacent these folks are.

Harry
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2005, 01:24:05 PM »

If you're criticizing the OCA office/OCA/Fr. John/whatever, I think you're missing the point. I find nothing wrong with Fr. John's response. There's plenty we can find to criticize about the OCA, but I don't think this is one of those things.  Orthodoxy doesn't issue "positions" on everything - that is western mindset, wanting everything to be completely explainable and fit into it's nice box. The Church isn't really involved in this case per se, so why should it have to issue an opinion - it's not the Church's job.

Also, I think this case is something we should try and "Fast" from during Lent. It is a tragic story, but also turned into a circus by the media. We don't all need to weigh in our opinions on everything the media spits at us. Sure, that Minnesota school incident yesterday was horrible, but it has happened and there is nothing more about it that I need to watch about.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2005, 01:26:24 PM by Elisha » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2005, 01:28:26 PM »

What a loathing and lukewarm attitude.

I am not criticizing the OCA per se.  I am criticisizing their lukewarm attitude.

Obviously you have no problems with the death of someone who is alive, well, and responsive.

The Church's job is to minister to people.  Remember, that which you do to the least of my breathren, you did it to me.

I can't believe your hasty and arrogant response to such a serious issue.

Harry
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2005, 01:40:44 PM »

What a loathing and lukewarm attitude.

I am not criticizing the OCA per se. I am criticisizing their lukewarm attitude.

Obviously you have no problems with the death of someone who is alive, well, and responsive.

The Church's job is to minister to people. Remember, that which you do to the least of my breathren, you did it to me.

I can't believe your hasty and arrogant response to such a serious issue.

Harry

Sorry, but the only think I find "hasty and arrogant" is your hasty judgement of me.  We can read the news all day, find every depressing thing about the world and weep to our hearts content, or we can work on ourselves...partially by helping our fellow man.  Didn't St. Seraphim say, "Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousands souls will be saved"?  Go and read Fr. John's response again - the concept of Teri Shiavo being "well responsive" is by no means decided upon or obvious.  Don't believe everything your TV tells you - it's not healthy.  Better yet, turn it off completely for Lent.
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2005, 01:48:44 PM »


Obviously you have no problems with the death of someone who is alive, well, and responsive.


Yes, "obviously" Elisha thinks it's just fine and dandy. Wink

Seriously, you might want to check out the meanng of "obviously" in your dictionary.  You might be surprised at what you find there. 
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2005, 01:48:58 PM »

I don't find the release disturbing.
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2005, 02:11:45 PM »

The Church's posistion on the sanctity of life is well defined, from the Scriptures through the Fathers to the more recient decrees of our Episcopacy; and I'm certain that the Fathers would object to ending the life, even of someone who is severely mentally incapacitated, granted medical technology has evolved, but the sensibilities of Patristic thought are constant; thus there is really no reason for the Church to issue the statement, we have had a statement issued now for nearly 2000 years.

With that said, we are in the unfortunate situation in this country of lacking proper theocratic influence in state decisions; therefore the opinion of the Church is of little or no effect, as a matter of law it is reserved to the temporal powers, which happen to be secular legislators and secular judges in this case. If the person removing the feeding tube or the judges making the decisions happend to be Orthodox, then the Church would have a right to dictate their actions and decisions, but as it appears they are not Orthodox, we are simply observers.
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2005, 02:15:24 PM »

Well put, greekischristian.
And I can't get the image of Pilate washing his hands when I think of that federal judge in Atlanta today. <shudder>
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2005, 03:10:19 PM »



Yes, "obviously" Elisha thinks it's just fine and dandy. Wink

Seriously, you might want to check out the meanng of "obviously" in your dictionary. You might be surprised at what you find there.

Personal attack removed.
Warned for personal attack
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2005, 03:26:29 PM »

And I can't get the image of Pilate washing his hands when I think of that federal judge in Atlanta today.

Finally something I actually have substantial knowledge on... and I'm going to have to say I disagree.

From a legal perspective, the Judge did, exactly what the law required him to do.  What the congress did (in allowing this case to go back to this federal judge) was just grandstanding.

If Schiavo's parents were to succeed in having the judge Order the tube re-inserted into her stomach, they would have to show a "substantial likelihood" of success in the underlying action (ie: the right to choose for their daughter vs. her husbands right to choose for her). There was NO WAY they could carry that burden.  It was destined to be a loser (as a legal argument) but satisfied its goal, as political opportunism (which I really despise).

Furthermore, the lawyer for her parents used such fallacious arguments (again in legal terms), it was clear as day, they would lose.  From a legal perspective, I assure the Judge was not just washing his hands of this issue, he was following the law.

I also think the opinion by Fr. John is reasonable.  However, this poses an interesting question for all of us OC's here... what is the Orthodox position on "Health Care Proxies" and "Living Wills" with "Do Not Resistate" orders and "no extraordinary" life saving measures orders?

I've drafted hundreds, but I've only ever drafted two for OCs.  Any thoughts?
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2005, 03:30:28 PM »

oooh! hey Mods! It appears there's someone who wants to call names here! DABEETED! (please?)
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2005, 03:33:18 PM »

oooh! hey Mods! It appears there's someone who wants to call names here! DABEETED! (please?)

Unfortunately, kids will be kids.  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2005, 04:41:42 PM »

SouthSerb99,

Dispite my dislike of the 13th-15th Amendments on account of how they were forced through, in violation of the rights of the Several States, they are law, and I would consider the equal protection under the law clause from the 14th Amendment applicable in this situation (equal rights to life for disabled as well as able-bodied). The right to die has never been a part of our legal system, nor the legal system of any civilized nation (for many years attempted suicide was a capital offence in England, in spite of the irony, the point that death is Not a right was underlined by this law), and the simple fact of the matter is that it is not part of the Rights granted to the Citizens of the State of Florida. The only reason that this is even an issue is because the liberal Florida Supreme Court justices are legislating non-existang rights from the bench, scared that a decision in favour of life might threaten their holy sacrament of abortion. If justices did their job and worried about the letter of the law, rather than inventing a non-existant spirit to fit their ideologies, these wouldn't be problems, or better yet, why dont we simply let the Church choose our Judges?
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2005, 04:47:05 PM »



Finally something I actually have substantial knowledge on... and I'm going to have to say I disagree.


I've drafted hundreds, but I've only ever drafted two for OCs. Any thoughts?

So I assume you're saying that you are a lawyer? Nice to know so that we can bug you with future questions.
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« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2005, 04:49:13 PM »

...these wouldn't be problems, or better yet, why dont we simply let the Church choose our Judges?

That would be great....but is not going to happen until we convert America to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2005, 04:58:49 PM »

Finally something I actually have substantial knowledge on... and I'm going to have to say I disagree.

From a legal perspective, the Judge did, exactly what the law required him to do.

No argument on the law. And  exactly the legal perspective that Pilate took. Caesar's law trumps what is right.
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2005, 05:34:24 PM »

If justices did their job and worried about the letter of the law, rather than inventing a non-existant spirit to fit their ideologies, these wouldn't be problems, or better yet, why dont we simply let the Church choose our Judges?

I think you are looking at this to broadly.  Specific to the issue which was before the federal judge (yesterday) was whether or not the parents could prove a "substantiall likeliness" of succeeding in the underlying action.  (Question of who could make legal decisions for her).

Also, I think the question of life vs. death is not nearly clear as you so state.  I think there is an argument to be made that keeping her alive with a feeding tube through her belly is as artificial as euthanasia.
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2005, 05:35:29 PM »

So I assume you're saying that you are a lawyer?  Nice to know so that we can bug you with future questions.

All legal questions will be answered with the appropriate disclaimer.  Grin Grin
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2005, 05:37:17 PM »

As a law librarian, I'd like to pick your brain.

Do you think this decision could possibly set up some sort of legal precedent regarding the care of a severely retarded individual, or is that a slippery slope argument?
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2005, 06:36:56 PM »

I think you are looking at this to broadly. Specific to the issue which was before the federal judge (yesterday) was whether or not the parents could prove a "substantiall likeliness" of succeeding in the underlying action. (Question of who could make legal decisions for her).

This brings up an interesting question about law that I am curious about, since my knowledge of law is limited to Canon Law and the Roman Legal system (as well as some constitutional law, but since that isn't very well followed, such knowledge isn't very helpful on anything other than a theoretical level). In a situation where there will be no case to consider if the court does not intervene, one would think that it would naturally be required that the status quo be maintained, as best as possible, until the legal system can deal with the issue. Essentially in this siutation, one judge is ruling infavour of one party, and preventing the full legal process from being undertaken; this seems quite opposed to our system of law. By analogy would a judge be able to premit a person's execution to go forward, even in the middle of the appeals process, by ruling that the chance that the convicted will win his appeal is not 'substantially likely'? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that our law is set up with such inconsistancies, but they do seem problematic.

Also, I think the question of life vs. death is not nearly clear as you so state. I think there is an argument to be made that keeping her alive with a feeding tube through her belly is as artificial as euthanasia.

I'm sure that the argument can be made, though I would be quite surprised if someone could bring it in line with the patristic witness. An argument against using a feeding tube or some similar device in the first place might be easier to make than the argument to remove it, but even that one would be difficult (the entire concept of letting someone starve to death when there is another option is somewhat problematic).
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« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2005, 07:25:37 PM »



All legal questions will be answered with the appropriate disclaimer. Grin Grin

Could expect anything less of lawyer? Grin
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« Reply #21 on: March 22, 2005, 08:06:02 PM »

They should have let the poor woman die years ago. Being kept alive artificially for 15 years! This is absurd. Let her die.
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« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2005, 08:10:48 PM »

Do you think this decision could possibly set up some sort of legal precedent regarding the care of a severely retarded individual, or is that a slippery slope argument?

IMHO, this will have no impact on ANY future cases of severely retarded individuals.  Here, the instant issue was a question of decision making for Shiavo.  The secondary issue was whether or not she had due process of law.

I don't think precedent was set in either, in as much as "due process" has been litigated to death, and this case changed nothing and the question of decision making (for Schiavo) is not rocket science either.

Her parents want to make "legal" decisions for her, so does her husband... the law says he gets to.  That is intuitive (if you think about it) because think about a situation where children are involved and grand parents now decide they want to be decision makers after one spouse dies.
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« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2005, 08:29:25 PM »

In a situation where there will be no case to consider if the court does not intervene, one would think that it would naturally be required that the status quo be maintained, as best as possible, until the legal system can deal with the issue. Essentially in this siutation, one judge is ruling infavour of one party, and preventing the full legal process from being undertaken; this seems quite opposed to our system of law. By analogy would a judge be able to premit a person's execution to go forward, even in the middle of the appeals process, by ruling that the chance that the convicted will win his appeal is not 'substantially likely'? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that our law is set up with such inconsistancies, but they do seem problematic.

I enjoy the opportunity to offer some opinions to greekischristian, as he recently gave me an AMAZING LESSON IN ORTHODOXY 101. LOL

Okay, I think you've got the facts a little backwards, so I'll try my best to answer this.  In the Schiavo case, her husband went to Court (exhaustively) for the right to remove her feeding tube.  There have been (counting today and the later appeal) 36 Court hearings with respect to REMOVING the tube.  I think that is an important distinction, considering the example you gave above.

Since the issue was heard, reheard and then heard again by 11 different Judges and several panels, the Courts determined that Terri Schiavo had due process of law.  They determined that her husband had the legal authority to make the decision to remove the tube in her belly.  Once that decision was made, the case was done.  All questions answered.  Due process satisfied, decision making with the husband....

Than came the opportunistic law makers who knew the Courts really couldn't do anything, but this was a great chance to get your mug on the nightly news.

Back to federal Court, where the Court had to rule on the likelihood of success on the two underlying issues.  Considering all of the prior proceedings, the decision was a forgone conclusion.  Furthermore, our entire legal system is based on stare decisis (that decisions are decided like the ones before them), so the Judge was bound by following well established precedent.

Now, I'm not a criminal lawyer and I DON'T try capital cases, I don't believe there is a "substantial likelihood" test for capital cases...and maybe this will help you see the difference.  The "substantial likelihood" of success test on the underlying case, has nothing to do with her living or dying, it has to do with "who has the authority to make decisions for her".  The fact that those decisions could mean life or death, doesn't concern the law.  What concerns the law is the question of "decision" vs. the question "result of decision".

I hope that made sense. LOL  I'm ready for Orthodoxy 201 now.  Wink
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« Reply #24 on: March 22, 2005, 08:30:39 PM »

Could expect anything less of lawyer? Grin

HEY!  Lawyers are people to.  Evil
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« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2005, 08:39:09 PM »

They should have let the poor woman die years ago. Being kept alive artificially for 15 years! This is absurd. Let her die.

Tom,

  I think one of the issues that kind of got lost in this is the effort her husband put forth in trying to help his wife. Initially, Schiavo was awarded $750,000 against the fertility clinic she was using (medical negligence case).

  With that money, Schiavo tried most medical procedures available as a means of "helping" or "curing" his wife. He even had electrodes implanted in her brain, to try and trigger some type of function.

  Needless to say, everything he tried, failed. I feel terrible for the guy, because he has been terribly demonized by the media. I don't think he is a monster. I genuinely believe he thinks he is doing what she would want him to do.

  Others have accused him of wanting her dead so he can keep the money from the trial years ago. This is an issue near and dear to me. I do try cases regarding catastrophic injuries, and the one thing I can tell you all, is that the cost to care for someone in a vegitative state is ENORMOUS. There is NO WAY he has anything left from the $750,000. I would be willing to bet, her yearly care, exceeds $200,000.

  I think the whole thing is very sad. A real tragedy.
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« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2005, 08:51:08 PM »

SouthSerb99,

Michael Schiavo may have elicited slightly more sympathy if he was truly devoted to his wife, and not living in adultery. There's something about an adulterous man trying to kill his wife (with or without a financial incentive) that has a tendency to evoke a negitive response from many people.
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« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2005, 08:55:24 PM »

As far as I am concerned he is NOT living in adultery. His wife Terri died a long time ago. What has has now is simply the body of his wife being kept "alive" by machines. She cannot survive without those machines providing her with life. She is DEAD.

Let her go.
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« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2005, 09:03:13 PM »

Unless, of course, she is not dead, like her family claims, and she has limited response to them....There are enough articles describing her various reactions to environmental stimulii--they're worth reading about. If she is effectively dead, that's one thing. But her family is arguing she is not.

One thing I wish I understood--Why can Mr. Schiavo not jsut divorce her and move on? Her family is willing to care for her; he does not want to.
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« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2005, 09:19:09 PM »

As far as I am concerned he is NOT living in adultery. His wife Terri died a long time ago. What has has now is simply the body of his wife being kept "alive" by machines. She cannot survive without those machines providing her with life. She is DEAD.

Let her go.

She Can Breath on her Own, her Heart Pumps on it's own, the only thing necessary for survival that she cant do on her own is swallow. This hardly makes one dead, she is not dead legally nor would the Church consider her dead; moreover, even Michale Schiavo acknowledges that she is not dead by making his arguments in court based on his marriage with her. The bottom line is that he is living in adultery (not that moral condition his current living arrangement would be greatly improved by either a divorce or her death) and trying to kill his wife, surely you can see the moral difficultiy of his situation.
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« Reply #30 on: March 22, 2005, 09:26:04 PM »

There is evidence she can swallow on her own--her former nurses' testimony.  She's also not brain dead or a permanent vegetable. Persistant vegitative states are NOT always permanent.
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« Reply #31 on: March 22, 2005, 09:48:33 PM »

Nuerologists have testified that she can not recover.
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« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2005, 09:51:20 PM »

Neurologists are also aware of manycases where people who were "brain dead" or "had no hope of recovery" miraculously returned to full function. They cannot explain them. There is great mystery surrounding this. It is not as if her brain does not keep her body functioning. It does--and there is evidence that she could be rehabilitated to swallow (see her ability to swallow saliva--she does not drool). There is no way to prove that someone could not recovery from a state such as hers because people have in the past.


Even if she does not ever return to a fully functioning state--her current state is similar to the very most severely retarded persons. The only assistance she needs to live is food--and the possibility exists to help her eat on her own: then she would only require spoonfeeding. She has been denied all therapy(at her husbands order), however, and so her body has continually weakened over the years.  Since when do we deny people the right to life just because the form of life has been diminished from the norm or ideal? Do we euthanize retarded persons? Why should Mr. Schiavo be allowed to let his spouse starve when others are willing and able to care for her? It just doesn't make sense.
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« Reply #33 on: March 22, 2005, 11:52:50 PM »

The issue of her technical condition is irrelevant to me... the only relevant issue is that she is not dying, she can breathe and digest nutrition on her own. She is severely disabled.   I have seen numerous retarded children who require incredible aid from their parents. If they were to let them starve to death, they would be guilty of neglect.  If Terri was home with an illness or disability that  required spoon feeding and her husband let her starve, he would be guilty...Nursing homes are guilty if they leave alzheimer's patients in their excrement and don't feed them...  The fed judge in Florida is a pro-choice Clinton appointee.  Everyone sees the link between this and abortion from the political side.  What about the link between this and wrongful death in care of disabled people who have been fighting for support.  So if anyone has a child with cerebral palsy or other serious illness.. let them starve... abort babies... play God....  The only reason Terri will die here is because she is being starved, not because she is dying... 

I had an uncle with severe Downs syndrome.  He could walk but barely talk. He had no teeth, could only eat baby food,  and the docs told my Grandparents he wouldn't live passed 16.  He had the last word.  He died at 48... but for all those years, my Grandmother fed him, bathed him, shaved him and wiped his bottom.. and loved him...and that is why he lived. We loved him dearly...I had an Aunt with Lou Gehrig's disease.  She needed to be fed and helped around.  She died in her sleep from natural suffocation,as a result of the disease.  But she was not starved to death. When my father was dying of cancer, he was given morphine and an IV for hydration and nutrition.  The cancer killed him, not starvation...

There are too many unanswered questions in this case regarding the circumstances of her collapse, the details of her inhumane treatment by her husband, and lack of clarity on her wishes.  In fact her husband said on TV he didn't know what she really wanted.... Also apparently the case was first ruled a homicide- the police had been called by the paramedics when she collapsed.  Her husband issued orders that she was to be kept in a dark room with no tv, music, or any stimulation. He didn't even want her bathed... this goes back years.  And he only came forward with a 'her wish' statement after many years... probably so he could get on with his love life.... He did not seek an anullment from the church, which would have been the proper approach were he a decent guy.  The bulk of the money he was awarded was not spent on treatment but on lawyers...  And her nurse has come forward now that the 'gag order' on her was removed and told all.. how her husband would say ' how much money he get when that 'bitch' dies..."

Regardless of all of this, anyone who things this is not an issue for Orthodoxy is mistaken:  It is one thing to remove a feeding tube, another to deny her communion! So who's next guys??? She was even denied an ice cube.  It is not that the feeding tube was removed,  but that they want to assure she dies body and soul... freedom of religion is also at question... We are all dying with her...and rather than 'forget her' during lent, we should all be praying for her and her soul, and her parents....I am amazed and thoroughly disappointed that few on this list  have even said this... I accidentally posted this response on the prayer forum... where only one person responded to my request for prayer.   I will post separately a note from a lawyer with her just before they pulled the tube.



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« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2005, 11:54:44 PM »


"Last Visit Narrative
by Attorney Barbara Weller
http://theempirejournal.com/0319052_attorneys_last_visit_wit.htm

When Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed at 1:45 p.m. on March
18, 2005, I was one of the most surprised people on the planet. I had
been visiting Terri throughout the morning with her family and her
priest. As part of the legal team working throughout the previous days
and nights to save Terri from a horrific fate, I was very hopeful.

Although the state judicial system had obviously failed Terri by not
protecting her life, I knew other forces were still at work. I fully
expected the federal courts would step in to reverse this injustice,
just as they might for a prisoner unjustly set for execution*although
by much more humane means than Terri would be executed. Barring that,
I was certain that sometime around noon, the Florida Department of
Children and Family Services would come to the Woodside Hospice
facility in Pinellas Park and take Terri into protective custody. Or
that federal marshals would arrive from Washington D.C, where the
Congress was working furiously to try to save Terri, and would stand
guard at her door to prevent any medical personnel from entering her
room to remove the tube that was providing her nutrition and hydration.

Finally, I was sure if nothing else was working, that at 12:59, just
before the hour scheduled for Terri's gruesome execution to begin,
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would at least issue a 60-day reprieve for the
legislative bodies to complete the work they were attempting to do to
save Terri's life and to make sure that no other vulnerable adults
could be sentenced to starve to death in America. I had done the legal
research weeks before and was fully convinced that Gov. Bush had the
power, under our co-equal branches of government, to issue a reprieve
in the face of a judicial death sentence intended to lead to the
starvation and dehydration of an innocent woman when scores of doctors
and neurologists were saying she could be helped.

All morning long, as I was in the room with Terri and her family, we
were telling her that help was on the way. Terri was in good spirits
that morning. The mood in her room was jovial, particularly around
noontime, as we knew Congressional attorneys were on the scene and
many were working hard to save Terri's life. For most of that time, I
was visiting and talking with Terri along with Terri's sister Suzanne
Vitadamo, Suzanne's husband, and Terri's aunt, who was visiting from
New York to help provide support for the family. A female Pinellas
Park police office was stationed at the door outside Terri's room.

Terri was sitting up in her lounge chair, dressed and looking alert
and well. Her feeding tube had been plugged in around 11 a.m. and we
all felt good that she was still being fed. Suzanne and I were
talking, joking, and laughing with Terri, telling her she was going to
go to Washington D.C. to testify before Congress, which meant that
finally Terri's husband Michael would be required to fix her
wheelchair. After that Suzanne could take Terri to the mall shopping
and could wheel her outdoors every day to feel the wind and sunshine
on her face, something she has not been able to do for more than five
years.

At one point, I noticed Terri's window blinds were pulled down. I went
to the window to raise them so Terri could look at the beautiful
garden outside her window and see the sun after several days of rain.
As sunlight came into the room, Terri's eyes widened and she was
obviously very pleased. At another point, Suzanne and I told Terri she
needed to suck in all the food she could because she might not be
getting anything for a few days.

During that time, Mary Schindler, Terri's mother, joined us for a bit,
and we noticed there were bubbles in Terri's feeding tube. We joked that
we didn't want her to
begin burping, and called the nurses to fix the feeding tube, which
they did. Terri's mother did not come back into the room. This was a
very difficult day for Bob and Mary Schindler. I suspect they were
less hopeful all along than I was, having lived through Terri's last
two feeding tube removals.

Suzanne and I continued to talk and joke with Terri for probably an
hour or more. At one point Suzanne called Terri the bionic woman and I
heard Terri laugh out loud heartily for the first time since I have
been visiting with her. She laughed so hard that for the first time I
noticed the dimples in her cheeks.

The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was
sitting on Terri's bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her
lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I
stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands.
I said to her, "Terri if you could only say `I want to live' this
whole thing could be over today." I begged her to try very hard to
say, "I want to live."

To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri's eyes opened wide, she looked
me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said,
"Ahhhhhhh." Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she
virtually screamed, "Waaaaaaaa." She
yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne's husband, and the
female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri's
door, clearly heard her. At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on
her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling
hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very
frustrated and began to cry. I was horrified that I was obviously
causing Terri so much anguish. Suzanne and I began to stroke Terri's
face and hair to comfort her. I told Terri I was very sorry. It
had not been my intention to upset her so much. Suzanne and I assured
Terri that her efforts were much appreciated and that she did not need
to try to say anything more. I promised Terri I would tell the world
that she had tried to say, "I want to live."

Suzanne and I continued to visit and talk with Terri, along with other
family members who came and went in the room, until about 2:00 p.m.
when we were all told to leave after Judge Greer denied yet another
motion for stay and ordered the removal of the feeding tube to
proceed. As we left the room, the female police officer outside the
door was valiantly attempting to keep from crying.

Just as Terri's husband Michael has told the world he must keep an
alleged promise to kill Terri, a promise remembered a million dollars
and nearly a decade after the fact; I must keep my promise to Terri
immediately. Time is running out for her. I went out to the banks of
cameras outside the hospice facility and told the story immediately.
Now I must also tell the story in writing for the world to hear. It
may be the last effective thing I can do to try to keep Terri alive so
she can get the testing, therapy, and rehabilitative help she so
desperately needs before it is too late.

About four in the afternoon, several hours after the feeding tube was
removed, I returned to Terri's room. By that time she was alone except
for a male police officer now standing inside the door. When I entered
the room and began to speak to her, Terri started to cry and tried to
speak to me immediately. It was one of the most helpless feelings I
have ever had.

Terri was looking very melancholy at that point and I
had the sense she was very upset that we had told her things were
going to get better, but instead, they were obviously getting worse. I
had previously had the same feeling when my own daughter was a baby
who was hospitalized and was crying and looking to me to rescue her
from her hospital crib, something I could not do. While I was in the
room with Terri for the next half hour or so, several other friends
came to visit and I did a few press interviews sitting right next to
Terri. I again raised her window shade, which had again been pulled
down, so Terri could at least see the garden and the sunshine from her
lounge chair. I also turned the radio on in her room before I left so
that when she was alone, she would at least have some music for comfort.

Just before I left the room, I leaned over Terri and spoke right into
her ear. I told her I was very sorry I had not been able to stop the
feeding tube from being taken out and I was very sorry I had to leave
her alone. But I reminded her that Jesus would stay right by her side
even when no one else was there with her. When I mentioned Jesus'
Name, Terri again laughed out loud. She became very agitated and began
loudly trying to speak to me again. As Terri continued to laugh and
try to speak, I quietly prayed in her ear, kissed her, placed her
in Jesus' care, and left the room.

Terri is alone now. As I write this last visit narrative, it is five
in the morning of March 19. Terri has been without food and water for
nearly 17 hours. I'm sure she is beginning at least become thirsty, if
not hungry. And I am left to wonder how many other people care."

May God have mercy on us all...
Kizzy
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« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2005, 11:56:43 PM »

Dont be too disappointed, shocked, or see no posts as some kind of value statement. Many people are taking Lent off from the computer, and even more read and pray without ever making a post. Posting does not equal prayer.
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« Reply #36 on: March 23, 2005, 12:12:42 AM »

Thanks.. I needed that...
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« Reply #37 on: March 23, 2005, 02:02:18 AM »

Hi all!

See http://www.aish.com/societyWork/sciencenature/Should_Terri_Schiavo_Live _or_Die$.asp

and http://www.aish.com/societyWork/sciencenature/The_Terri_Schiavo_Case_Related_Ethical_Dilemmas.asp

for an Orthodox Jewish view.

I'll quote one excerpt from the first article

Quote
Let us take the example of Terri Schiavo. She is not brain dead nor is she terminally ill. She is brain damaged and remains in what appears to be a persistent vegetative state. All of her bodily functions are essentially normal, but she lacks the ability to "meaningfully" interact with the outside world (although her parents claim that she does minimally respond to their presence and to outside stimuli).

Her impairment is cognitive and Judaism does not recognize any less of a right to treatment for one cognitively impaired than one mentally astute.

It is a denial of the Jewish ideal of the fundamental value of life that drives the forces that wish to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. While Judaism does recognize quality of life in certain circumstances (such as the incurable terminally ill patient in intractable pain mentioned above), the Torah does not sanction euthanasia in any situation. To remove the feeding tube from a patient whose only impairment is cognitive is simply murder.

We must ask ourselves when we view images of cognitively impaired patients such as Terri Schiavo whether the pain that we feel is Terri's or whether it is our own. While we may suffer watching movies of the severely brain damaged, it is our own thoughts of the horror of a life without cognition that drives us to project that pain onto the victim who may not be suffering at all.

and one from the second:

Quote
The general consensus in halachic literature [i.e. literature having to do with Jewish law] has been that certain treatments, such as oxygen, nutrition, and hydration are obligatory for all patients, regardless of the severity of their medical condition. This obligation is predicated upon the assumption that there are certain bodily needs that all people share, regardless of their prognosis, and that failing to provide for these needs constitutes a breach in the obligation to care for one's fellow man.

This line of reasoning considers breathing, eating, and drinking to be normal activities of daily living, and the providing of oxygen, nutrition, and hydration to be extensions of normal physiologic processes rather than medical interventions. [The late] Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach calls these treatments routine, and therefore not open to refusal or withdrawal, unlike certain other more "extraordinary" treatments that need not necessarily always be provided. He considers nutrition, hydration, and oxygen to be absolutely required, similar to antibiotics, insulin, and blood transfusions.

What gets me is that if (God forbid!) it was my wife in such a condition, my devotion to her is such that I would have neither the time, nor the urge, nor the inclination to look for other romantic female companionship; that would the absolute last thing on my mind (or anywhere else). Shame on her husband! If romantic female companionship is that important to him, he should divorce her. But until he either divorces her or God takes her, he should keep his pants zipped.

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #38 on: March 23, 2005, 02:43:20 AM »

What gets me is that if (God forbid!) it was my wife in such a condition, my devotion to her is such that I would have neither the time, nor the urge, nor the inclination to look for other romantic female companionship; that would the absolute last thing on my mind (or anywhere else). Shame on her husband!

Excellent point, and I would presume that anyone who loved their spouse would think along similar lines. The Fact that Michael Schiavo seems unable to understand this fact tells much about his character and motives.

It is also unfortunate that those who Make and Interpret our Laws in this country do not have the Moral Sensibilities of the late Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach; or perhaps they lack his moral courage, in which case I fear we may have an even greater problem.
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« Reply #39 on: March 23, 2005, 05:50:49 AM »

I used to work in a brain injuries unit at a psychiatric hospital. We had one patient there who was remarkably similar to Terry Schiavo, though her condition was caused by encephalitis. She could not speak or eat, was fed through a tube etc. She was more responsive than Terry Schiavo, but there was still no real prospect of her recovering - we just tried to do the best we could for her, which wasn't a lot. She was constantly very distressed (at least it seemed so, you couldn't exactly ask her) and she was very severely disabled, but she most certainly was not dead, not by any stretch of the imagination. I agree that unnaturally prolonging a life, for instance with ventilators, is an issue where allowing death might be consistant with the historical position of the Church, but stopping feeding someone is way more of a grey area. What's to distinguish ending Terri Schiavo's feeding morally from infanticide by starvation? I really don't see much of a moral difference here at all - both are helpless, utterly dependent living people. I don't know the details of Terri's medical condition, but what I have heard does not, to my mind, justify starving her to death.

In the case of our patient, also, the attitude of the husband was very different. He came every day to see her despite having to travel a very considerable distance after finishing work. He spent long periods of time with her and always left looking emotionally destroyed. He discussed his wife's prognosis with us and never gave up hope. In short he was a wonderful, admirable man who loved his wife deeply and I pray that God has given him comfort in his suffering. Mr Schiavo, on the other hand, does not strike me as in any way admirable. If he is unwilling or unable to look after his wife then the only moral thing to do would be to let others take his place. One thing I simply cannot understand is how American law seems to be accepting his story (and it's just his word against that of her parents) that she would have wished to die, despite the fact that accepting it would mean the killing, not allowing to die, of another human being. Surely in such cases where no real proof is offered, the law ought to err on the side of life?

James
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« Reply #40 on: March 23, 2005, 09:42:22 AM »

Kizzy,

     Legally speaking (again), the article by Barbara Weller has so many holes in it, I really don't have the time or energy to respond to each one.

     However, I will respond to this (I think I've said this a million times on various posts), I really dislike the characterizations of "liberal" this or "conservative" that.

     With respect to the Judge, someone remarked that he is "Clinton appointee", and an "abortionist".  Now, that may all be true, but I really think that had NO influence on his decision and I think so called "conservatives" who are complaining about him are being really hypocritical.

     What they wanted him to do, was go outside the law, and rule in her favor (on the narrow issue of decision making).  In other words, they wanted him to be a rogue (and activist) Judge.  The same as those Judges across the Country who are ruling in favor of issues which are unsupported by law (ie: gay marriage et al).

      You can't have it both ways.  Either the Judge follows the law, or he is an activist Judge.  Either way, the Judges seem condemned to make the wrong decision.  Is it only permissible to be and activist Judge when you are doing so for a "conservative" agenda.

      I for one, think that universal health care is a "fundamental right" of all citizens and should be guaranteed by the Constitution, but that is NOT the law, and until there is an act of congress saying so, NO Judge should rule in favor of such an idea.  I have a whole host of other "liberal" ideas I believe are "fundmental rights" however, unless and until that are codified and constitutionally sustainable, Judges CAN'T and SHOULDN'T suport ideological agendas.  It undermines the credibility of the entire legal system.
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« Reply #41 on: March 23, 2005, 12:01:13 PM »

SouthSerb, I would say that the politicians who are stepping over their legal bounds to aid this woman are doing a noble act, regardless of personal agendas that are behind the scenes. I understand your position as a lawyer, but to put the system above humanity in such a manner is foolish.

These judges are really beginning to bother me. First it was letting gays marry. Now it's killing innocent life. What next?
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« Reply #42 on: March 23, 2005, 12:10:07 PM »

SouthSerb99,

Though I know the goal of the writers of the constitution was to establish an objective judicial branch, they failed, and were destined to fail because of human nature; the only reason our judges dont have party affiliation is because everyone is happy with the fiction that they are truly objective (I will say that I believe our current supreme court is one of the more objective courts this nation has seen in decades, but it's a long ways from perfect objectivity), I've read enough court decisions and and modern documents on the philosophy of law to know otherwise.

The case of Roe vs. Wade is a classical example of the Judicial Activist approach, you cannot claim rights that have not been formally granted by law and the right of privacy does not extend beyond protection from unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrent. This is the strict constructionist view, simple and straightforward, you are not formally granted a right, therefore this privilege is subject to the the opinion of the current State/Federal Legislative and Executive branches (depending on the issue). (Also, I've never understood if being secure on one's person guarantees the right of abortion, since I'm also secure in my house, why is it illegal for me to kill people in my home? It seems like a logical conclusion.)

What I object to legally here is similar Judicial Activism, both the US Constitution (14th Amendment) and the Florida State Constitution (Article I Section 2) grants the right to Life (a right that can be considered to be fundamentally opposed to a right to die, but that's not relevant to my argument); however, neither document says anything about a right to die (also, just as there is no 'right' to healthcare, neither is there a 'right' to restrict it, even by a spouse, this is a privilege, subject to the will of the Legislature). What I ask for is strict constructionism from the Courts, since not right to die is explicitly stated, none exists. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that the State Legislature has the right to grant or revoke this privilege at will. The Florida State Legislature has already passed a law preventing the removal of the feeding tube, but Judicial Activists declared this law 'unconstitutional' even though there is no Constitutional provision that restricts the actions of the State Legislature in this regard. I agree that Judges should not put forth their ideological agendas, unfortunately that is exactly what they have been doing, protecting 'rights' that exist only in their minds, and overturning laws on a whim, without any real justification for their actions.

If we want additional rights, not explicitly granted in our Federal or State Constitution, each and every one of these Constitutions have a procedure to be amended, that is how new rights are granted for changing times, not on the whims of our judges.
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« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2005, 12:19:44 PM »

These judges are really beginning to bother me.  First it was letting gays marry.  Now it's killing innocent life.  What next? 

I'm going to ignore the "foolish" line, in the hopes that you weren't calling me foolish.

As for the above quoted line, you are missing the point.  The issue is activist Judges.  If the Judge ruled in favor of her parents, he would've been as wrong as the Judges ruling in favor of gay marriage, legally speaking.

Right now, you can't have it both ways.  Unless the laws are changed, allowing parental rights to trump marital rights, the JUDGE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION.

You can disagree with it on moral and religious grounds (I'm not arguing against that), I'm simply stating, legally, he was right.  Often areas of law are not black and white, but I think this particular issue is.

I think the stronger, maybe more compelling argument can be made that this might constitute "cruel and unusual" treatment.  Not saying it is or it isn't, just that I think it is a more compelling argument.

Of course, if the so called "noble" conservatives argue this, then the hethen liberals will scream, so is frying  a retarded 16 year old in Texas (something Bushy was only to happy to do).

My point being (again) that I don't buy into the liberal vs. conservative stuff.  I think on moral grounds, their are laws much more appauling than the Schiavo case.  Take for example a law in Texas (signed by a former governor, now in a higher position), which allows doctors to unilaterally decide to "pull the plug" on what they deem "non-viable" infants, without parental consent.

So, severly handicapped baby is born, needs a ventilator to breath, doctor decides baby will never breath on it's own and pulls the plug after 6 months.  This is better than Schiavo?
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« Reply #44 on: March 23, 2005, 12:32:42 PM »

Greekischristian,

    I appreciate much of what you have written, and only wish my knowledge of Orthodoxy was as extensive of your legal knowledge (which is way beyond the realm of the lay person).

    Having said that, I'm still going to disagree with your notions of a strict constructionist view of the constitution and in fact all legal doctrine.  I know we'll disagree on this point, but strict constructionist Judges lead to guys like Antonin Scalia, who in my books, is certifiable.  I think he twists and contorts legal doctrine worse than any of the most "liberal" Judges on the Supreme Court.

    If I may analagize for a second (and I maybe making a huge mistake), but my impression of strict constructionists (legally speaking) is like reading the OT, without the NT.  I think, reading the constitution, without some interpretation, is disastrous, and I would argue very un-Christian.  Remember, at the time the Constitution was drafted, blacks were viewed as sub-human as were women and probably most (not all) non-Anglos (or those closely related).  So I think there is some danger in this.
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