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Sunday, April 03, 2005



Re: The Catholic stance on the Schaivo case...

I had heard on the radio (NPR) that the Pope had expressed his position on the subject to be the following:
Extraordinary life-saving procedures can be withheld at the request of the patient. This would include respirator, dialysis, medication, etc. Food and water should never be withheld from a patient. This appears to be consistent with his own recent experience. There were reports of a feeding tube inserted through John Paul's nose, and that he had declined dialysis, which apparently could have extended his life. It sounds like he's saying that the patient should be able to say "enough is enough", and put their fate in God's hands. If I might be so bold as to interpret/paraphrase the Pope. Who the hell am I??
Anyway, a doctor they interviewed on NPR had an interesting take on the situation. He said that the feeding tube used for Terri Schaivo delivered a liquid that can hardly be considered food. It's so heavily engineered that it's really more of a medication than a food. It's not the kind of stuff that I would want to eat for 15 years. Heck, I wouldn't want to eat it for one meal! It's not like they were just putting ham sandwiches through a blender, and into her tube. And as much as I like ham sandwiches, after a few years, I think they'd even start to get a little old.
I think the whole ordeal was just very sad. Her years of suffering, the way she had to die, by dehydration. But I guess if you believe that her brain waves were flat, she was already dead. Hence the obvious philosophical question, which I will not pose, because even I am not that banal. I believe her parents and her husband were both sincere in their beliefs and convictions. Her parents didn't want their daughter to die, and her husband didn't want her to continue to suffer. It's a real shame that her wishes weren't spelled out more specifically. I think that some religious nuts out there, and some ambitious, misguided politicians saw this unfortunate situation as a way to promote their own agendas, which they attempted to do. I think the American people mostly saw through the politicians' motives, but I didn't get the same sense about the religious nuts. You can wrap just about anything in religion, and a lot of people will accept it.

So, that's my buck-n-a-half.


Thanks for the info re: the RC stance on patient wishes re: treatment. Sounds like a reasonable position for them to hold, given the rest of their beliefs. I had no idea what kind of stuff was given via feeding tube. I hadn't thought about it too much, but since I knew that there are all kinds of things that can be done to regular food to allow a person with eating-related disabilities to eat the food by mouth (e.g., processing a hot dog so it's more like hot dog spread), I kinda figured they were just doing more of the same in order to get it through a tube.

I think I can concede the sincerity of her birth family and her husband's convictions and beliefs. I'm not so sure that I think they all held reasonable positions, though. But I think they were sincere and were, obviously, extremely emotionally invested in the issue, which can cloud judgement and reason.

I do feel very badly for all of them - birth family, friends, husband. If they were sincere, but perhaps unreasonable, the most one could say was that they were misguided. And in a situation such as this, it's certainly understandable.

I don't feel badly for the folks who used this case to further their own agendas and were disappointed. I like a nice, solid separation between my state and anybody's church. The politicians should not have gotten involved except to ensure that the judiciary was allowed to do its job re: the disputes in this case.

I'm tempted to go into a rant against folks who go on about the U.S. being a "Christian nation" based on "Judeo-Christian laws" and what all that should justify the executive and legislative branches doing to "correct" judicial activity. Do these people think the concepts of law and order only came along when the Jews and Christians came along?

But, ya know, I'm getting all het up now just thinking about it, so maybe I'll save all that for another time.

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