Justice, Mercy and the Law

March 31, 2005

Throughout these past dying weeks of Theresa Schindler-Schiavo, the legal scholars have reiterated that the courts were following the law when they sentenced her to death by dehydration. They told us that there was no legal way, for the courts, to show mercy for those who wanted to save the life of a mentally disabled person. If it is true, as the scholars say, that the law can show no mercy, how can it be justice? The answer is, there is no justice, for “Justice without mercy is cruelty,” taught Saint Thomas Aquinas.

No Mercy, No Justice: “Justice and mercy work beautifully together, and make no sense apart. Justice leads up to mercy, and mercy picks up where justice ends. Justice that does not allow for mercy is cold and inhuman. Mercy that does not presume justice is irresponsible and sentimental.”

Thomas Aquinas said that mercy “does not destroy justice, but is a certain kind of fulfillment of justice. ..Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; (and) justice without mercy is cruelty.”
[Schiavo, justice, law]


Terri’s Choice

March 31, 2005

Long, long ago when Terri was a young woman, she made the choice to die by the slow and “seemingly” painful process of starvation and dehydration. We know she made that choice, because, under oath, her former spouse and two of her former in-laws declared that she did, and the court of Judge Greer, found it to be true.

We know that Terri rejected the beliefs of the religion she professed, she rejected the beliefs of her parents and siblings. We know that her friends who testified that she viewed the sanctity of life in accord with her church, were mistaken. We know these things, because Judge Greer ruled them to be true.

We know that the majority of Americans believe that this was Terri’s choice, with which no one, including the federal government, should interfere. We know the majority of the public would also want to die the same type of death as Terri is now dying, if they were in her same disabled condition. We know this because the MSM, including CBS News has reported the polling that has been done.

As a nation we watch her slow, slow death by starvation knowing that this was her choice, and knowing that she feels no pain, and knowing that she looks peaceful and beautiful, because that is being reported by those that the court has declared to be truth tellers. Still, one has to wonder, if Terri wanted to die this way, why does she not die? Why has she lingered with life for almost two weeks?


Judicial Murder

March 29, 2005

is how Nat Hentoff in “The Village Voice” describes the death by dehydration of Terri Schiavo. As the world watches, “a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history”.

“The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead.” ~~from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith Report

[death, Schiavo]


Terri’s Exit Protocol

March 29, 2005

On October 27, 2003, Michael Schiavo explained to Larry King why he was fighting to remove his wife’s feeding tube. He insisted that he wanted to help his wife “die with dignity,” saying “It’s painless, and probably the most natural way to die. It is a very easy way to die — probably the second best way to die, the first being an aneurysm.” At the exact time he was exulting death, in Terri’s medical file there existed a document prescribing a slow and painful death by starvation and dehydration for her. The document was labeled “Exit Protocol,” and was discovered by Cheryl Ford, R.N., who was reviewing Terri’s medical file at the request of the Schindler family. In order to explain this document in detail, the actual protocol is in bold print, and is followed by Nurse Ford’s comments.

The cruelty Cheryl Ford has seen Terri endure is “not even believable,” she said. “In this case, Dr. Kevorkian would be more humane than what they intend to do to Terri.” Terri’s Exit Protocol


Not Dead Yet

March 29, 2005

This post has been removed to “Kerfuffles”. Please see it there.


No Hydration – No Nutrition

March 29, 2005

“Vex not his ghost – Oh let him pass; he hates him that would upon the rack of this tough world stretch him out longer.” ~~William Shakespeare, “King Lear”, Act V, Scene 111, Kent speaking of the dying King Lear.

What happens when you withdraw food and hydration? Ethical Issues in Hydration and Nutrition


A Duty to Die

March 28, 2005

Recently I wrote about the “right to die” and my belief that because each life is a gift from our Creator, we have no “right to die”. In the Culture of Death, which does believe in a person’s “right to die”, there is a movement which posits that the sick and/or their families are not the best judges of when it is their time to die. The Culture of Death believes that doctors and/or ethicists should decide when it is our time to give up our lives.

In 2002, the ethics committee of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital approved new guidelines which stated, “intensive care would not routinely be given to patients in a persistent vegetative or minimally conscious state. Only patients who had explicitly requested such care would get it.” It decided that the “exclusion from rehabilitative or other forms of life-enhancing treatment” would apply to “patients with severe brain damage.” Hopeless patients would not be admitted to an ICU (intensive care unit).

“Doctor Knows Best” in The Culture of Death. As the medical community husbands its expensive resources, it now positions itself to decide which of our lives are worth living and are therefore worthy of medical treatment. It becomes the judge of which of us is unworthy of life-saving procedures. When the hospital rules that your life is not worth living, then you have “a duty to die”, according to the ethics of the Culture of Death. This nationwide movement has already convinced many Americans to endorse legal euthanasia for those who would be “better off dead”, rather than continue keeping them alive with extraordinary means. We would not want to live as miserably as they live, therefore, they should die.

With this new theory that some lives are not worth living, American hospitals have begun implementing ‘futile care’ policies, which offer death as the only “choice”. What began with a ‘right to die’ has now become a ‘duty to die’. When a patient is given a poor prognosis by a medical practitioner, no matter whether it is accurate or not, it will become a death sentence for that patient, as in the Culture of Death, when care is “futile”, the patient has a duty to die. There are no beliefs in prayer or miracles; “Doctor is always right”, and there are no misdiagnoses.

Nancy Valko, an experienced Registered Nurse and activist for the disabled, says “Just a generation ago, doctors and nurses were ethically prohibited from hastening or causing death. Family disputes and ethically gray situations occurred, but certain actions such as withdrawing medically assisted food and water from a severely brain-damaged but non-dying person were considered illegitimate no matter who was making the decision. But with the rise of the modern bioethics movement, life is no longer assumed to have the intrinsic value it once did, and ‘quality of life’ has become the overriding consideration. Over time, the ethical question, ‘what is right?’ became ‘who decides’, which now has devolved into ‘what is legally allowed?'”

It has been reported that physicians, hospital administrators and bioethicists of the Culture of Death find it worrisome to always have to ask “what is legally allowed?” They fear that they can lose a lawsuit when denying care to a disabled patient, therefore they are demanding more case law to enable them to end lives they consider “futile.” The handicapped, when needing hospital care, such as routine operations, are increasingly at risk of being labeled “Do Not Resusitate”.

Euthansia “It is one of the tragedies of our lives that someone who wants very much to live can nevertheless have a duty to die.” John Hardwig,

“IS THERE A DUTY TO DIE?”

“Such human weeds clog up the path….We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.” ~~ Margaret Sanger (1883-1966), Founder, Planned Parenthood, “Slouching Towards a Duty to Die”

Lamm’s ‘duty to die’ Message Lives On, Former governor feels vindicated in his stance against futile prolongation of life.

The Duty To Die

The Duty To Die, by Thomas Sowell, 2001

Is There a Duty to Die ? (Biomedical Ethics Reviews)
Book Review