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Using Terri: The Religious Right's…

Using Terri: The Religious Right's Conspiracy to Take Away Our Rights

by Jon Eisenberg

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I believe strongly that people should be able to decide for themselves, to the extent that it is possible, how much medical care they want. This goes both for people who want no heroic measures and people who want everything possible to be done. One of the most upsetting things about this story is that a number of people trying to keep Terri Schiavo on the feeding tube, including her parents, admitted that they didn't really care what she wanted, even if she had left even more specific instructions. Does the reviewer who professed to be distressed by the arrogance of Michael Schiavo, et al., apply the same standards to the Schindlers and others trying to warp the law and established practice? They were certainly convinced that they had a direct pipeline to God. The reviewer who claimed that he had no problem with the decision to remove the tube, but felt that Eisenberg was unfairly attacking Christian conservatives should give more thought to what they did. Did this person stand up and say, "You're not speaking for me when you claim that God requires extraordinary measures"? Eisenberg pointed out that a number of Christians, even conservative Christians, were puzzled by the reluctance to let Terri Schiavo go to God.

I already have advanced directives, and after this, I think that I will try to strengthen them.

Eisenberg's account of events was compassionate, careful and fair. In all that I have read about this, I have not seen any good evidence that Michael Schiavo was a bad husband while his wife was living with him, or failed to do the best for her until it became clear there was no hope. I cannot understand the argument that it is playing God to remove the tube any more than it was playing God to use it in the first place. Terri Schiavo would have died naturally more than 15 years ago.

There were times when I thought that perhaps Michael Schiavo should have turned care over to his in-laws, since they felt so strongly, but that is only because I don't think that Terri Schiavo was alive enough to care. I don't judge him for that, however. I know what it is to decide with family members when treatment should be ended since death can only be briefly postponed. I don't know what it is like to have to watch someone in that condition for more than fifteen years, convinced that they would not have wanted it to happen that way.

I hope that I am never the cause of putting my own family through such character assassinations, public intrusions and sufferings. ( )
  juglicerr | Sep 8, 2009 |
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Oulines the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case, discussing the efforts of the religious and political right to intervene in the legal process and the implications this alliance could have for future privacy and autonomy issues.

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