AP For Starvation Judge

Justin justin-cypherpunks at soze.net
Sun Mar 27 00:58:05 PST 2005

On 2005-03-26T22:35:23-0800, Eric Cordian wrote:
> Justin writes:
> > Artificially feeding her against her wishes and/or the wishes of her 
> > husband (whose wishes have precedence over the wishes of her parents -- 
> > if you don't like that, get that law changed) is sick.
> I think we have to divide things we do for disabled people into "care" and 
> "heroic medical measures."  I consider a feeding tube to fall into the 
> former category.

I like to think that "care" is doing what the patient wants.  If the
patient is uncommunicative (following a balloon with her eyes .5 times
out of 1000 doesn't qualify as "communication" imho), the legal
decision-maker can end any treatment.

> That which we may do to ourselves, if we are functioning, exceeds that 
> which we may require others to do to us if we are not.  I can deny myself 
> food, water, and air, for instance.  I cannot instruct others to deny me 
> those things if I am rendered incapable of making my own decisions.

Okay; I accept that.  We can assault ourselves, but we cannot waiver in
advance another's legal culpability if they assault us.

She is not functioning, however.  Her rights and the rights of her legal
representative are the same.  Anything that she could have requested in
a living will can be requested by her legal representative, her husband.

> There is no reason for the feeding tube to be removed at all.  It is not 

That depends on her condition.  If she is merely a brainstem attached to
a beating heart and a bunch of tissue, there are clear reasons for
ending this spectacle.

Utilitarian: she's using medical resources that could help people who
have a chance at recovery.

Utilitarian: the spectacle is diverting time and attention of citizens
who should be focusing on increasing their personal wealth, and by
extension the GDP.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Once she's dead, people
will quickly become less distracted as the media can only run stories in
her wake for so long.

Ethical: She wouldn't want to live like this (the court's accepted this,
but it's still disputed).

Ethical: We don't want to see her live like this (which morphs into "she
wouldn't want US to suffer like this").  I don't think this one's
disputed, though Michael may take that view for financial reasons.

> If Terri were able to be spoon fed by an attendant, would the judge have 
> then ordered "spoon and attendant withdrawal?"  Would the papers report 
> that "the spoon is keeping her alive artificially?"

Can she recover to sentience, or is she merely a braindead automaton
capable of swallowing?

> > If I have a living will (in writing or by the decision of a legal proxy)
> > that restricts certain kinds of treatment, you're more than happy to see
> > doctors violate that and keep me alive as long as someone on Earth is
> > willing to pay?
> Well, I would argue that you do not have a legal right to demand others 
> restrict your air, food, and water, unless they need to be delivered in 
> invasive uncomfortable ways that reduce your human dignity.

So I don't get to define my own notion of "human dignity"?

> > That is not the way any sane legal or medical system should work.  I
> > suppose you don't believe in euthanasia either?
> I think euthanasia is fine if the patient is suffering horribly, has all 
> their marbles, and has less than six months to linger from a terminal 
> illness.

Three arbitrary thresholds.  Two subjective: "horrible" suffering and
"all their marbles"; one of them objective: "6 months".

> Terri Schiavo meets none of these criteria.

Explain why your criteria matter and how the subjective ones are to be
applied, and I might care.

> I certainly don't support the right of an adulterous spouse who swore up 
> and down at the malpractice trial that he only wanted to care for his wife 
> for the rest of her natural life, and who didn't mention her "wish" to not 
> go on until 7 years after her brain injury, to have his brain-damaged wife 
> starved and dehydrated to death solely on his say-so, absent any written 
> indication of her wishes.

What, you've never changed your mind about anything?  She's been
effectively braindead for over a decade.  This could be a case of
"moving on" emotionally.

Terri's parents supported the adultery, based on news reports I've seen.

I'm not saying it's morally right for him to cheat on her, but I take a
very dim view of any State involvement in marriage.  As far as I'm
concerned, the marriage granted him the right to represent Terri in a
situation like this, just as if they executed a medical power of
attorney and never got married.  I consider the marriage contract fully
severable.  His "cheating" on her doesn't materially affect any
contractual aspect of the marriage, so unless she's around to get
divorced, he can still legally represent her.

Unable to correct the source of the indignity to the Negro, [the Phoenix,
AZ public accommodations law prohibiting racial discrimination] redresses
the situation by placing a separate indignity on the proprietor. ... The
unwanted customer and the disliked proprietor are left glowering at one
another across the lunch counter.  --William H. Rehnquist, 1964-06-15

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