[Marxism] Z mag/Disability Rights Watch: Terri Schiavo and those conservative nutters...
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sun Mar 27 04:31:32 MST 2005
[ I suppose this is what certains folks in here mean by the "Republican Right" and
the "Papist plotters".]
"Consider David Jayne, a 42 year old man with ALS. Every five seconds, a
ventilator on a cart next to his bed pumps air into his lungs. He is not able to move.
Twelve years ago, Jayne would have dismissed this existence as a living hell. "Yes,
I am very passionate about the Terri Schindler-Schiavo issue, because I live it,"
says Jayne, who was profiled in TIME Magazine in 2001. Jayne, like many of us,
would have once said he could not imagine living in his current state. "If someone
had told me I would be paralyzed and tethered to a ventilator, yet still find meaning
in life, I would not have believed them." Today he says, "It is incredibly wrong for
society to decide who lives or dies based on their opinions of what level of quality of
life is worth living."
Issues Surrounding Terri Schindler-Schiavo Are Disability Rights Issues, Say
National Disability Organizations
Oct. 27, 2003 -- We, the undersigned, come together in support of Terri Schindler-
Schiavo, and her human and civil rights. We are the national spokespersons for the
rights of millions of Americans with disabilities whose voices are often not heard
over the din of political and religious rhetoric. We come together for those who will
be touched by disability in their lifetime and who will need our help to make their
We call on the media to join with us in ensuring that the real story about Terri
Schindler-Schiavo, and thousands like her, is told.
We ask the general public, who are clearly confused about what is best for Ms.
Schindler-Schiavo and others like her, to read this joint statement, signed by
national organizations and our allies, and then to act accordingly to signal their
support for Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Terri Schindler-Schiavo is alive. She deserves
nothing less than the full advantage of human and civil rights the rest of us are
fortunate to enjoy as Americans. We will not rest until her most basic humanity is
The "right to life" movement has embraced her as a cause to prove "sanctity of life."
The "right to die" movement believes she is too disabled to live and therefore better
off dead. Yet the life-and-death issues surrounding Terri Schindler-Schiavo are first
and foremost disability rights issues -- issues which affect millions of Americans with
disabilities, old and young.
Can she think? Hear? Communicate? These questions apply to thousands of people
with disabilities who, like Ms. Schindler-Schiavo, cannot currently articulate their
views and so must rely on others as substitute decision-makers. The law requires
that a guardian's decision be based on written documentation or other clear and
convincing evidence of her wishes. Her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo,
says she would not have wanted to live in her current condition, but there is no
written documentation or compelling evidence of this. There is just his word.
Early on in Michael Schiavo's quest to remove his wife's source of nourishment, an
independent guardian was appointed upon request by Schiavo's own attorney,
George Felos. That guardian, attorney Richard Pearse, issued a report to the judge
stating that Michael Schiavo was not a credible witness to his wife's end-of-life
wishes because he waited several years before coming forward with the claim that
she wanted to die. Pearse also noted that Michael Schiavo would benefit financially
from her death. Pearse was quickly removed at the request of Felos. Experts on the
issue of guardianship point out that it is always desirable that a person in Terri
Schindler-Schiavo's position have an independent representative who has no
particular interest in the case other than her. Since the dismissal of Pearse in 1999,
Terri Schindler-Schiavo has never been appointed another independent guardian.
The law Gov. Jeb Bush has just signed calls for one now.
The peculiar series of events which have led up to the current debate seem to have
avoided both the judge's scrutiny and media coverage. Michael Schiavo says his
wife would not have wanted to live in her current condition. And under Florida law a
spouse has the right to decide, though his powers are limited by the U. S.
Michael Schiavo conveniently remembered Terri's alleged wishes only after the
malpractice judgment was awarded. A review of court records shows that of the
$700,000 from a malpractice settlement Michael won that was to go for her care,
over half has been spent on his legal fight to disconnect her feeding tube. Over
$200,000 of it has been paid to his attorney George Felos. Michael Schiavo has
refused to let his wife receive therapy from a speech pathologist, a common type of
rehabilitation available to people with brain injury. A prominent expert filed an
affidavit that Terri Schindler-Schiavo can swallow her own saliva, and could
potentially be weaned from the feeding tube and recover some speech, so that she
could indicate her own wishes.
A recent report in the New York Times Sunday Magazine stated that after months or
years with little sign of consciousness, people may still be capable of complex
mental activity. The reporter, Carl Zimmer, wrote, "To the medical world,
...hundreds of thousands of ...Americans who suffer from impaired consciousness
present a mystery." Whether Terri Schindler-Schiavo is -- or isn't -- capable of "high
level thought" is not the real issue here. It is clear that she is conscious and
responsive beyond mere reflexes, as has been demonstrated by her ability to track
with her eyes, respond to verbal commands by physicians who examined her on
video, and react to those she loves.
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