[Marxism] Re: My two cents on the Schiavo case

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Mon Mar 28 06:19:34 MST 2005

Lueko: "As far as I know, Terri Schiavo does not suffer from a terminal
illness which would cause her more or less immediate death when artificial
life support is being removed. She is now being denied nourishment, and she
will die of dehydration, before she would die from starving."

It is interesting to see how the media's propagandizing of the papist
framing of the issue finds an echo in the strangest places, among them
Lueko's post.

Being in a persistent vegetative state with no discernible brain activity is
suddenly *NOT* a terminal condition. Think about that. If having completely
and permanently lost ALL capacity for even instinctive action, including
being unable to eat or drink, isn't terminal, I don't know what is.

And being injected with a brew of chemicals isn't "artificial life support"?
C'mon Lueko. 

Lueko goes so far as to argue that the surgery to insert a tube through
which nutrition-laden fluids can be directly deposited is a decision that is
"not one of medical treatment." If surgery to put into the stomach a tube
for the delivery of laboratory-concocted mash, and the timed and measured
delivery of that mash according to doctor-determined schedules and formulas,
isn't medical treatment, then pray tell, what is medical treatment? 

And that's true not just in Florida but in Europe, too. And if someone who
*wasn't* a doctor tried to feed someone that way, claiming they're just
running a restaurant and not a hospital, what would you say, Lueko?

Lueko says "She is now being denied nourishment," but she is no more being
"denied" nourishment than she is being "denied" anything else, because she
lost all capacity to ask for or request anything well over a decade ago. 

We have no way of knowing for certain what she would have wanted done had
she been consulted about this specific situation at a time when she was
capable of expressing her own desires. 

What we do know is her husband's testimony that she told him in this sort of
situation she wouldn't have wanted to be kept alive. Others heard those
statements, too. Florida accepts such verbal statements as valid, and I
believe not unreasonably so. 

Her spouse's testimony is essentially undisputed, and backed by others. The
priest-induced belief of her parents that she couldn't have said or couldn't
have meant that because it goes against some Papal Bull is simply not
evidence to the contrary. That is evidence about the parents' own wishes or
state of mind, not hers.

But were her own statements ruled out, then the question becomes, absent any
indication of her own wishes, who speaks for her? Obviously a guardian needs
to do so. I believe it is entirely reasonable and the normal practice pretty
much everywhere, but more specifically also the law in Florida and, that in
a case like this, the spouse is that person.

The priority in deciding who gets to be the decision-maker is pretty
standard in civil law, at least in this country. In the case of adults, if
no person has been designated through a living will, it is the spouse,
unless the couple is separated or in divorce proceedings. Then come adult
children of the patient, followed by the parents of the patient, then adult
siblings, and finally any other living relative.

Thus the ENTIRE controversy is simply the result of the Catholic Church
acting through her parents trying to get the state to force Catholic
doctrine to dictate what is done, rather than having that be determined by
the wishes of the individuals involved. It is an attack on personal freedom
and individual autonomy. And it is motivated by a desire to promote a more
generalized repudiation of personal freedom and individual autonomy. They
want to establish a "right to life" dictated by the state that would deny
women the right to decide whether and when to have children.

And actually, the position of the Papist Church and fetus fetishists of
other flavors on this issue is an improvisation flowing from the abortion

Under previous Popes, Catholics were free to refuse the artificial
prolongation of life, and even today an individual is still allowed to make
that decision for themselves, either directly or through a living will. Even
Wojtyla, in his reactionary jihad against women's rights, has been unwilling
to go further.

So if Schiavo's verbal living will was good enough for the state of Florida,
why isn't it good enough for the right-wing Catholic cabal? Because they
want to grab at anything that gives them even the slightest leverage or
opening in taking decisions about over oneself away from the individual and
handing it over to the state, through which the Church hopes to impose its
will on women and deny them the right to decide if and when to have

The Papist lawyer who represented the parents at the federal court hearing
imposed on Tampa judge by Congressional diktat was brazen in denouncing the
judge's refusal to bow before clerical rule. "We are now in a position where
a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her
eternal soul," the lawyer said.

Can you think of anything more shameful, more cruel, more manipulative, that
telling the parents of this unfortunate woman that not only do they have to
accept that she is no longer with us, but that she will burn forever in

More than anything, this case is testimony to the heartlessness and
profoundly anti-human character of the Catholic Church, its Popes, Priests
and lawyers, its allies in the anti-abortion rights movement, in the
Republican Party, and their stooges in the corporate media. 


More information about the Marxism mailing list