Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Culture of life indeed.

Raw Story links to The North Country Gazette regarding a report of another example of a law that George Bush signed in 1999 costing another family the life of a loved one:
The central issue in the Andrea Clark case is the same as that in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, whether the state should be able to sanction the removal of a human being from life support.

What's even more significant in the Clark case is that the Texas bill that allows health care providers to end a human life despite the wishes of the patient and the patient's family was signed into law in 1999 by President George W. Bush as Texas Governor. However, in 2005, he rushed back to the White House from Easter vacation to sign a bill rushed through Congress which was designed to save the life of Terri Schiavo because of his "presumption in favor of life".
I would like to point out that the issues actually are not "the same" or even similar at all. In the case of Terri Schiavo, the person given immediate control of her affairs when she was incapable of self determination was her husband. Indeed this system fits very nicely with the whole family values plank in the Republican platform, and generally speaking is the way most people would have their affairs handled if put in Schiavo's condition. Michael Schiavo therefore was acting in his wifes best interest from a legal point of view. In the case of the Texas law however, the advocates of the patient are allowed to be overruled by the hospital in question, leading to the death of the patient over the express wishes of that patients immediate family to keep them alive.

In the comments to Raw Story about this article there is a post from Jon G. that makes the same basic error in comparing the Schiavo case with the Texas law. That comment reads:
Why are you for this lady's life but wanted michael schiavo to be able to kill his wife Terri and were critical of the republicans for trying to save her? Oh, you can scream 'sanctity of life" and be critical of Bush this time.
I would like to be the first to point out to Jon that liberals and Democrats did not make Bush sign the Texas law. Neither were we responsible for his shameful pandering to the extreme wingnut side of the Republican party with the Schiavo debacle. So it is entirely President Bush's fault that he now finds himself having seemingly taken completely contradictory stances on end of life issues. When I say seemingly, it is because looking at this issue closely we can see that he is actually consistent in both cases. The President appears to have sided with the notion that the immediate family ought not have end of life decisions, whether in the case of the Texas law where the hospital may determine to let the patient die against the families wishes, or in the Schiavo case where the extremists were determined to remove the choice from her husband, who legally is her guardian. Truly, the only contradiction here is the political appearance of both actions. The President appears to be willing to hasten the end of life with the Texas law, but fighting tooth and nail to extend life in the Schiavo case.

It futhermore appears in the most recent case as detailed in Gazette the hospital is acting despite her own as well as her families wishes. The Gazette describes the womans conditions thusly:
"Andrea, until a few days ago, when the physicians decided to increase her pain medication and anesthetize her into unconsciousness, was fully able to make her own medical decisions and had decided that she wanted life saving treatment until she dies naturally", Childers said. "We have learned that this is part of the process, when hospitals decided to declare the "medical futility" of continuing treatment for a patient.

"Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant", her sister said. "She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason or speech. She has only suffered loss of some motor control. The reason that the physician gave to medicate her so much is that she is suffering from intractable pain in the sacral region (in other words, she has a bedsore that causes her pain). This is not reason enough, in our books, and we are trying, as we speak, to get Andrea's medication lowered so that she can speak to us.
Now that is truly an unconscionable state of affairs. How a hospital can medicate someone to unconsciousness, and then determine on her behalf, over the express wishes she made known while able to communicate, and against the wishes of her guardians, that further treatment is in vain truly reeks of 1984 Orwellian type consequences of bad law. A law that again, was signed into being by then Governor George Bush. And she is being allowed to die because of bed sores? Against her expressed wishes... I mean this really is a travesty.

I fully support the right of people to make their own determination on end of life matters. I am proud of Oregons assisted suicide law, twice supported overwhelmingly by the voters. A person who does not wish to live their last days in unrequited agony should be allowed the dignity of a peaceful death. I make the comparison with the tragedy of September 11, when the people trapped in the towers were faced with the same awful choice in effect. Can anyone considering their plight honestly begrudge those who finally ended their own lives by leaping from the towers rather than being consumed by the flames and dying in agony? The obvious answer to any sane person, be they Republican or Democrat is that you can see the horrible choice those people faced and would not gainsay their final decision. Only the most uncaring fundamentalist extremist could possibly condemn these victims. How then does their circumstance differ from that faced by the terminally ill patient who wants to be allowed to determine the nature of their final days?

With this belief on my part acknowleging the right of the patient to determine their own treatment with these types of decisions, to me this means if Terri Schiavo let her husband know that if she were ever to be hopelessly incapacitated that she would wish to die, then her wishes ought to be honored. And if the Texas patient determines that they would like to live to the bitter end, and has expressed this wish previously, then that wish ought to be honored as well. Let the patient decide. Not the Governor, or the President.

I agree. I meen, come on. Let the woman decide for herself, dont just dope her up like you in nightclub with fistfull of roofies.

that what i say.
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