Terri Schiavo + 5 years

Terri Schiavo died five years ago next week. She was the poor Florida woman who fell in to diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband gave an order to allow her to die, but her parents objected.

The law of course held that the rights of a spouse outweigh whatever rights a parent might have over an adult child. It rose to become a national issue, with Florida law being changed to prevent her from being allowed to die. The case went to the Federal courts and became an issue in Congress.

Many people said many things over this issue, and some of the things said were pretty regrettable. It was a very hot issue here too.

Five years on, have you changed your mind about this sad case? Why? Have we as the SDMB hive mind reached some sort of consensus?

I have not changed my mind.

I consider a right-to-die my choice and not the courts or public opinion. I believe a spouse should trump the rights of the parents (in my view a spouse knows you far better than your parents do and, presumably, loves you and would want to carry out your wishes). Her friends (who I wager also have a better idea than parents would of what Terri would want) were also in agreement with the husband of what they felt Terri would want in this case.

Add to that Terri’s brain was mush. Not even mush, it was liquid. There was no way she could ever be rehabilitated. Period. I think every doctor (or very nearly so) were in agreement with this.

About the only good thing to come out of that whole debacle was a great many people ran off and wrote living wills so it would not happen to them.

No change in my mind. I’d want my husband to have that decision, not my parents.

What Whack-a-Mole said. Since this is a poll, I haven’t changed my mind in my belief that Terry Schiavo’s spouse had every right to make that decision, made the right decision, and in my disgust that the religious right and certain politicians used the situation to grandstand and attempt to force their wretched, wrongheaded morality on rational people.

I have not changed my mind. Schiavo was correctly diagnosed with PVS, and the only person with a legal right to make an end of life decision for her was her husband.

Based on the first five responses, it seems like we have a SDMB consensus.

Nice change of pace.

Ultimately I think it was the husband’s decision to make, though a lot of what I’ve read indicates that he behaved like kind of a douche through the whole thing, which probably hurt his cause a bit.

Absolutely not. I stick by what i said then, and have no reason to change my opinion. I also feel the same disgust for the political grandstanders who tried to pre-empt this for their own benefit and turn it into a circus.

No, I haven’t. It’s still a very sad situation that connected with people’s emotions for a lot of reasons, but where the law and the medical facts were clear if you got past that.

Even at the time I think a significant people here agreed that Michael Schiavo should be allowed to make the decision. There was plenty of passionate arguing, but I can think of only a few people who seriously thought he was either trying to kill her so he could remarry or that he was unfit because he’d beaten her, and only one or two who felt the videos were convincing evidence she was conscious on any level. And for people who are amenable to reason, the brain scans that were done after she died settle the matter that much more definitively.

I do think there was a consensus that it was too bad she hadn’t made any kind of living will, that this was a terrible thing for any family to go through and the worst possible way to deal with this kind of dispute, and that the behavior of the politicians who got involved was disgusting.

No change of mind here, this was BTW one of the many cases were that joke that goes like “the facts have a liberal bias” turned reality.

It was sickening to see that virtually all conservative politicians stuck their paws into the issue. Even judges that were appointed by conservative presidents told the dissenting doctors that they were quacks for telling the poor family of Shiavo that she a chance of recovery.

I have not changed my mind. I was vehemently against her parents interfering at the time and still am.

I have not changed my mind. One thing it did do was encourage my wife and I to set up all the legal documentation in advance so that there would no doubt that if one of us were incapacitated, the other has full legal authority over matters like this.

No, I have not changed my mind. I felt bad for the Terri’s parents, but it was not their decision to make, it was Michaels. It was a tragic case, but there was no evidence that Michael was anything other than a good husband trying to respect what he believed were his wife’s feelings. I cannot imagine how hard it would be on my wife if my parents tried to interfere in our marriage if I had been in an accident and my wife had these kind of hard decisions to make.

Be all that as it may, it was outrageous and offensive (IMHO) that Michael was offered millions of dollars to cede his guardianship of his wife by right-to-lifers. It was really shameless and reprehensible (again, IMHO) that this tragedy was used as a political football by certain elected officials as they tried to intervene in this most private of family decisions. As a Libertarian, this event was a defining moment for me with regards to the Republican Party. It was at this moment that I realized that as conservatively as I felt about most issues, my ideals were more aligned with the Democratic party and they were, by far, the lesser of two evils.

I have not changed my mind but I have had a child in the intervening years. This has made me even more certain that allowing the parents to keep that poor woman alive was the only humane decision possible. I feel awful about what those poor people went through.

The autopsy finding (that Sciavo’s brain had essentially atrophied to nothing) changed my mind. Until then, I didn’t care.

After that, it was clear that Michael Schiavo and Terri’s physicians were absolutely right, and the hope of recovery that her parents and various right-wing busybodies harped on was no more than a lie.

Of course I haven’t changed my mind. I was absolutely right in every detail and said nothing I regret. The woman was already dead. Her wishes in such an event had already been expressed to multiple people (not just her husband). The law was clear. There wasn’t any real basis for debate. the other side was all religious mania and nothing else.

I did not feel bad for Terri’s parents either. They were just pissed that they didn’t get a cut of the life insurance. Their behavior was abominable.

And the law be damned?

What was inhumane about granting a woman’s wish not to keep her body artifically alive after her brain was dead?

Same here. DH says he could totally see his family causing the same kind of circus if something happened to him (based on their behavior when his brother died), and he doesn’t want any part of that.

Allowing parents to keep a body with no brain alive, and against the express wishes of the original person is humane? Bwah?

Just because the parents had difficulty letting go, or facing reality? Was that being humane to anyone?

The thing that has troubled me about this case and many others is that, while the political parties fight – sometimes quite literally – over the bodies of the people involved, other voices go quite ignored: those of the long term disabled and their advocates. The right to life crew approaches this as a sanctity of life question. The right to die crew considers that a person is at some point better off dead.

There are a few hard realities of life following significant brain injury or other severely disabling conditions, and one of them is that it often is in fact the siblings and/or parents who wind up caring for the person injured and not their spouse, particularly after some time has passed. This has nothing to do with the spouse being bad, wrong, or evil; it has to do with the tendency of people to get on with life. Another reality is that caregivers and medical professionals routinely assess the disabled as having less quality of life and as more disabled than the disabled themselves do. Study after study has shown that people’s previously expressed wishes about whether they would wish to live under certain conditions change when they actually experience those conditions.

The only care Terri Schiavo was getting was a feeding tube, as far as I can make out. There are a lot of people in the US on feeding tubes. Some of them are on feeding tubes because of lack of staffing at care institutions.

If the legal standard in cases involving termination of low level life support is reduced to the point where a person’s quality of life - as determined by others - justifies their death by dehydration or starvation, then how can we see to it that the thousands who cannot speak due to disabilities are protected?