Monday, March 21, 2005

SCHIAVO'S GUARDIAN SPEAKS. Media Log reader T.C. sends along this link to an NPR interview with Dr. Jay Wolfson, who spent a month in 2003 attempting to determine whether Terri Schiavo had any cognitive function left at all. His conclusion: no.

This is a fine interview. Wolfson - who comes across as unusually compassionate and clear-headed - is convincing in his assessment that Schiavo cannot respond to any outside stimulus, and that decisions about her care should thus be guided by her statement to her husband, Michael, that she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances.

It's also far more useful than links explaining to me that Congress is grandstanding or that the killing of Sun Hudson proves that George W. Bush and Tom DeLay are hypocrites. You think I didn't know that already? More important, such revelations shed no light on Terri Schiavo's condition.

Meanwhile, federal judge James Whittemore says he will not rule immediately on a bid to reattach Schiavo's feeding tube.

NO ORDINARY JOE. This profile of retired New York Times executive editor Joe Lelyveld, occasioned by the publication of his memoirs, is a must-read. Written by Stephen Dubner, it appears in the current edition of New York magazine.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

That Tucker dude who somebody linked to yesterday has a great follow-up to today's developments:

"Look, I think Mikey Boy's a somewhat dubious figure, but unfortunately, he's a dubious figure with the legal right to say "when"--and it's bizarre and sickening to see Congressional Republicans attempting to interfere with the rule of law in this manner. It's amazing--seven years ago, these same Republicans asserted (rightly and justifably) that the rule of law dictated that Bubba had to be punished for his perjury and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky matter. Now they say the rule of law doesn't matter because "maintaining the culture of life" is more important. Where I come from, that's called the ends justifying the means. Clinton molesting the rule of law seven years ago was disgusting. The GOP molesting the rule of law now is almost as bad."

http://drtucker.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/2005/03/the_schiavo_sil.html

Anonymous said...

That Tucker dude who somebody linked to yesterday has a great follow-up to today's developments:

"Look, I think Mikey Boy's a somewhat dubious figure, but unfortunately, he's a dubious figure with the legal right to say "when"--and it's bizarre and sickening to see Congressional Republicans attempting to interfere with the rule of law in this manner. It's amazing--seven years ago, these same Republicans asserted (rightly and justifably) that the rule of law dictated that Bubba had to be punished for his perjury and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky matter. Now they say the rule of law doesn't matter because "maintaining the culture of life" is more important. Where I come from, that's called the ends justifying the means. Clinton molesting the rule of law seven years ago was disgusting. The GOP molesting the rule of law now is almost as bad."

http://drtucker.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/2005/03/the_schiavo_sil.html

Aaron Read said...

Define irony: the same Republicans are insisting Terri Schiavo be kept alive...are slashing Medicaid funding, which will ultimately kill her.

(since Medicaid covers a good hunk of the $80k annual cost. At least according to Slate)

Now I'm curious - just how many Terri Schiavo-like cases are out there? I can't believe she's the only current or recent right-to-die re: vegetative state. In examining the can of worms Congress has opened with this precedent, shouldn't that be examined?

http://slate.msn.com/id/2115064/

Anonymous said...

My wife is a doctor in the neurology department at Mass General. MGH has one right now. There must be at least multiple cases of this in every major city across the country. In a previous case that she observed while working a Midwestern city, the patient's eyeballs had to be removed because she had lost the ability to blink. Yet her family were in litigation with the hospital over whether to keep her alive. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that, because of the inherent emotion and lack of medical experience, family members rarely have the ability to assess the situation accurately.

Mike_B

Anonymous said...

As an addendum, given all that, Congress is most certainly grandstanding. However, in the Schiavo case, the parents have chosen to publicize their fight, and the media naturally hop on, with few bothering to explore the *ahem* broad picture.

Mike_B

Anonymous said...

Dan,

I have been impressed at the great sensitivity you have shown in discussing the Schiavo matter -- by which I mean the Congressional legislation, though you mean the medical case underlying the Congressional legislation. I appreciate your attempt to set aside the obvious grandstanding in order to get to (some) truth concerning Schiavo's condition.

But, speaking for myself, I don't _want_ to try to get to the truth of Schiavo's medical condition, because it is none of my business. I think even empathetic commentators like yourself have no business trying to determine "What should be done about Terri" -- that job should be left up to her loved ones. And it is only when they cannot agree that _state_ courts must step in to try to adjudicate the matter the best they can. That solution is not perfect -- indeed, the very fact that it goes to the state courts shows that the situation is ugly -- but it reflects an attempt to keep personal, family matters as close to the family as possible. Even with the best of intentions, I do not want Congress deciding on an individual basis who deserves medical treatment and who does not. (I am, of course, not alone in this.) I am unhappy enough that the Florida courts had to step in -- but the case has been winding its way through those courts for over a decade, with all deliberations going one way. Does that not suggest something about the consistency of the legal conclusion, however heartbreaking it may be?

And I would like to emphasize -- I have no business trying to butt into the Schiavo family's agonizing drama, nor do you, nor does Congress. As a result, I would be much more sympathetic to Congress if, rather than passing a one off piece of legislation, it actually attempted to craft a larger policy concerning cases like Schiavo's. I would probably vehemently disagree with the legislation, probably on the grounds that the topic should be outside Congress' purview, but at least that debate would be worth having. Here, Congress itself is effectively admitting that it is grandstanding -- a one-off piece of legislation ? Is this how Congress intends to deal with issues -- one person at a time?

While I share your dismay at the callous tone of some of the commentary on this issue, commentary that divorces the real medical tragedy from the heartless political exploitation going on, I must nevertheless admit that I feel only the political exploitation should be up for discussion, as that is an issue that truly concerns the republic.

And I am really agonizing over how I feel about those people -- non-Schiavo family members -- who have brought us to this point. I cannot decide yet if they are misguided crusaders or repulsive zealots.

Anon

Anonymous said...

I really wish more media folks would set an example of resonsible journalism and respect for privacy here by refraining from the gratuitous, sensationalistic "diagnosis" of Terry Schiavo's condition.

The only people capable of making such determinations are people who have done face-to-face medical exams, and numerous people have done them the past 15 years.

It is profoundly demeaning to Terry Schiavo and her husband for commentators to add to the media feeding frenzy by piling-on speculation based on sheer ignorance.