[Marxism] Re: Award for Judge in Schiavo case... (and more on

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon May 9 13:11:35 MDT 2005

I felt that the facts about the husband's position, which has been
responsible throughout as the evidence always indicated and as I always
believed, that were raised in the first contribution to this thread
raised issues that helped clarify the claim that the right to die or
the right of specific relatives to "pull the plug" is guaranteed against
court interference by the "right to privacy" a la abortion.  

Quite a few radicals have argued, partly out of ultraleft opposition to
using the courts (it seems to me) and partly just as a stick to beat the
rightist-organized campaign in the Schiavo case, that spouses h(or
"families") have the inalienable right to make decisions for their
members on these matters and that this should be a privacy right like
abortion -- that is a personal decision subject to no review. My main
point was to show why this should NOT be so, and the right to court
challenges in cases like the Schiavo one should be maintained.

I thought it was important to note that Mr. Schiavo did not claim that
this was a privacy right, did not claim the courts should not get
involved, and instead won the case on the merits.

Yes, I believe that irreversible brain death is death.  I believe that
demonstrating that this has occurred should not be made to easy. I am
glad there was much more evidence in this case than the doctors'
unanimous diagnosis. Thus, I believe Terri Schiavo was probably dead
even when, as I hope I would be doing in the same circumstances, he was
fruitlessly trying to show that the doctors were wrong and that her
condition could be improved.  His efforts form part of the evidence.

Yes, I believe the undisturbed "calm" of Mrs. Schiavo after the tube was
removed was (for me) the final and conclusive evidence that she was in
fact dead -- that is irreversibly brain dead, which I believe is not a
disability like any other but a form of death. In that sense, she was
probably  dead from the time of her collapse. But I don't think it
should be terribly easy to prove that and act on it, and it sure wasn't
in this case. I insist there is no evidence whatever that she was either
hungry or thirsty. Her parents are my source for the claim that she was
calm, which they interpreted as a sort of stoicism, but to me is
evidence that being denied food and water did not change her physical
responses in  any way.  Yes, I think she was dead.

David may want to turn irreversible brain death into a disability
legally, and he may agree with Bush that the brain-dead (and the
unborn?) are our most vulnerable citizens and therefore the most
deserving of the state's protection, but that is a huge change in the
traditional conceptions of what constitutes human death. I am sure that
Terri Schiavo (whatever was her political affiliation) will be voting
straight Republican for decades to come in Florida, and may have been
doing so for the last 15, but I do not think she was a "most vulnerable
citizen." She was one of the least vulnerable because she was
irreversibly brain dead, which is death for a human being. 

I see that David is still waging the hate campaign against Mr. Schiavo,
which was the last refuge of scoundrels in this case: "I want to remove
my wife's tube b/c she's an annoying 
b**tch getting in the way my self fulfillment"

There was never any evidence to support the charges against him, and his
actions throughout the 15 years are completely at odds with this
portrait. My recognition of the fact that the husband was acting
responsibly  was where my differences with the "save Terri" campaigners
began, even before I was convinced of her irreversible brain death,
i.e., death. On both issues, I tried to start with the facts. And the
facts are overwhelming.  Really, it is  now David who must prove a
different case, something he attempted and failed to do again and again.
Much of what J. wrote on the facts was in response to David. And there
is no evidence that David has anything new to say.  He is fully entitled
to his view, but there is no need to rehash it again and again.

Since I thought the attempt to extend the "right to privacy" to this
issue could endanger the democratic rights of other patients by denying
recourse to the courts, I thought it was important to highlight the
evidence that the Schiavo case was NEVER fought over the claim of a
"right to privacy." It is a somewhat legalistic, but valid in my
opinion, concern about potential democratic-rights issues.
Fred Feldman

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