Sunday, March 20, 2005

diagnosis by video

I have been out of town for a few days, so I am catching up on my newspaper reading this morning. I have been following the Terry Schiavo case on the television news in my hotel room, but hadn’t heard the thing about Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) taking advantage of his status as a medical doctor to insert some nonsense about Schiavo not really being in a “persistent vegetative state”. Despite the fact that doctors who have examined Schiavo have all come to this conclusion, Frist said he watched the videotape shot by her parents and disputes the conclusion of these other doctors.

According to The Washington Post, this isn’t the first time that Frist has compromised his medical ethics in pursuit of the almighty conservative vote. Late last year he suggested that there was a remote chance that HIV/AIDS could be spread through tears or sweat, a bullsh*t idea that had been promoted by a conservative sex education program.

Sorry folks, AIDS may be devastating and may wreak havoc on the individuals it infects, but it’s just not that strong of a virus in terms of transmission. There have been no cases in which someone has been infected in that manner.

Now, apparently, Congress has succeeded in reversing the court order to remove Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube. Frist, licking the a** of right-to-lifers with his big juicy tongue, said yesterday that Congress “has been working nonstop over the last three days to do its part to uphold human dignity and affirm a culture of life.”

What do I think about the Terry Schiavo case? I look at the pictures of her when she was young – before the accident – and I think that the person in those photos, who was pretty and vain, would not want to live the life that she is living now. I don’t think the image of her sitting in her wheelchair, staring off into space has anything to do with “human dignity”. It’s the exact opposite. Terry Schiavo’s mind is apparently that of a small infant, despite being 41 years old. Her parents refer to themselves as “Mommy” and “Daddy”, change her diapers and coo at her and convince themselves that the life she is living is worthwhile. I think that it is time to let her go, to live with the memory of the woman that she once was and the love that they feel for her. That’s dignity.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I agree. This pandering to the right-to-lifers has been extremely transparent and, actually, embarrassing. This is what our politicians have resorted to? Torturing a dying person and her family in order to manipulate the vote?

On a larger theological level, you have to wonder where people come up with these ideas about preserving life and the natural order of things.

If God wanted Terry Shiavo to live, she would be surviving without her feeding tube. There's nothing natural about expensive technology pumping glucose into your veins.

The saddest thing about many ultra-conservative Christian beliefs is how little they actually rely on faith. Faith is taking her off the tubes and letting God decide what to do with her. After five minutes or five hours, maybe it's worth fighting to prolong someone's life; but after fifteen years, you have to wonder if the doctors are just getting in the way.