Feed a Dog, Starve a Human

Feed a Dog, Starve a Human

I was talking with an attorney friend of mine who told me about a guy who, for no known reason, killed dogs and kept them in his freezer.  Sounds pretty bizarre, I know.  The police came to the guy’s door after neighbors complained about hearing dogs howling in the condo complex.  He wouldn’t let the police in without a warrant.  The story goes on and on but the eventual issue in court was whether there were “exigent circumstances” to enter the guy’s apartment.  Normally, if the police believe a human being is at risk of harm, that belief forms the basis for entering a dwelling, without a warrant.  But, here, the question was whether the police could enter if they believed an animal was at risk.

I said to my friend I’m surprised there was any problem at all, considering how the concern for animal rights has risen while the concern for unborn children seems to be non-existent.  I said there seems to be more concern over the care of animals than for human beings.  Remember the hoopla surrounding Michael Vick and his dog-fighting enterprise?  My friend agreed.

He then mentioned the case of Terri Schiavo, who coincidentally, would have been 47 years old on the day we spoke in December. We both agreed that the circumstances of Mrs. Schiavo’s death were far more gruesome than the peaceful and gentle way animals are put down or the way death row prisoners are administered a lethal injection.

Mrs. Schiavo was a disabled woman whose estranged husband, Michael, and the courts to which he went, decided, after fifteen years, that she should be deprived of water and food, even though her parents and siblings were ready to care for her for the rest of their lives.  I’ve read enough on the subject to reach the conclusion that Mrs. Schiavo died a very slow and painful death.

My beliefs were confirmed when I read an article written by Father Frank Pavone, the president of Priests for Life, on the 6th anniversary of Mrs. Schiavo’s death.  He was present by her bedside the night before she died.  The court forbade any one from giving her water and she suffered a painful 13-day death by starvation and dehydration.

Could you imagine the ramifications of allowing a sick animal to be put down by starvation and dehydration?  The public outcry would be deafening.  I’m sure there’s a “cruelty to animal” law in every state which would subject someone to criminal charges and possible incarceration.  Yet, our enlightened society allows a human to starve to death.

Mrs. Schiavo was not dying, she was not on life support, and she did not have a terminal illness.  Yet, because of the actions of her estranged husband and the courts, she was tortured and starved to death because, according to Father Pavone, her life was considered “useless.”

We see this disregard for human life and suffering even more so when it comes to abortion where medical research has found that unborn babies, as young as 8 weeks, experience and feel pain.

Yet, convicted criminals who have been sentenced to death are treated far more humanely.  Whether you are for or against the death penalty, most states allow execution by lethal injection using a “three-drug cocktail” that puts the prisoner to sleep.  So, no matter how heinous the crime, the criminal is gently put to sleep because our Constitution would prohibit execution by starvation and dehydration.  By the way, the ACLU which is always demanding due process rights for prisoners on death row, acted as co-counsel for Mrs. Schiavo’s husband.

I certainly don’t advocate the killing by starvation and dehydration, but when innocent human beings are allowed to die under horrific circumstances, while animals and convicted prisoners are gently put to sleep, something is very wrong.

Being pro-life, it’s disturbing to read about the extermination of the unborn by abortion, society’s growing permissive stance on assisted suicide or “voluntary euthanasia” and, in Father Pavone’s words, the killing of the “useless” as in the case of Mrs. Schiavo.

When human life is so devalued, when will “nonvoluntary euthanasia” become acceptable?  Will we eventually be willing to embrace something like China’s “one-child policy”?  Who decides when a human being is “useless” in society?

Mrs. Schiavo’s family should’ve have been allowed to care for her.  No one should’ve decided her life was not worth living and certainly not her estranged husband, who had already started a new family with another woman and with whom he had two children.  And, under no circumstances, should she have been starved to death.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Teddi

    It is interesting to read all the responses to this posting. As I read all the details mentioned in the replies, I went back to Leona’s original posting. I think the points about the legal issues in Teri Schiavo’s case are important and hold much merit. And upon reading Leona’s writing again, I kept hearing a focus on morality. Yes, if you were to review the details of the legal case, there may be many justifiable reasons why the process and outcome took the course that it did. Also, there are valid points about animals and humans being in different groupings according to rights. But I think Leona’s original concern was over the morality in our society and the discrepancy that exists in treatment of living beings. I got a sense from all the people who responded on this page that we all are concerned about humane treatment of living beings. And I think this is the point. Animals, death row inmates and people in hospice care are given means for a painless death. There is questioning about Mrs. Schiavo’s death and the concern over a painful death. My father-in-law recently died and was receiving hospice care in his last few weeks of life. For the 2 weeks prior to his death, he did not eat or drink anything, except for taking his medications. He was underweight to begin with, and by the end of the 2 weeks, he looked like he had been starved to death. But he was receiving pain medication and was alert and indicated he was not in pain. If we have people in situations like Mrs. Schiavo’s, why can’t there be measures taken to make sure there is not pain if a feeding tube is removed? I know there are probably technicalities in this type of situation, but I think what I am hearing in Leona’s concern (and correct me if I am wrong) is a desire to see these situations handled in a consistent fashion so beings don’t have to suffer. If it can be done for animals and inmates, we can surely find ways to approach this in other situations where there are inconsistencies, yes?

  • Konrad Lau

    I can tell you all from personal experience and from historical reference:

    1: Starvation is not painless. How many smiling faces did we see in the concentration camps?
    The looks in the prisoners’ eyes was not just the stress of an over bearing task master.

    2: Death by dehydration may be a faster end but is no less pleasant (not that I’ve died of dehydration but I have had a serious time in an unnamed desert).

    The key word here is “civilized”. Even convicted prisoners are given a last meal before they receive a death by lethal injection.

  • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

    There wasn’t any room for a further Reply, so here’s my Reply to Bob’s latest comment to me.

    First, let me say, Bob, I’m very sorry for your loss but it was good to hear that your father’s death was peaceful.

    You asked what I would have done in your situation. I lost my mother when I was 8 and my father when I was 21 so I have no first-hand experience. I would have to say it was your father’s choice and I would take solace in the fact that he died peacefully and on his own terms.

    I would have absolutely no problem if Mrs. Schiavo had expressed her wishes or had made any end-of-life decisions. Again, it would have been her choice. The fact that she fell into a coma in 1990 but her husband did not “remember” her wishes until 1998 is highly suspect.

    • Bob Hadley

      Leona,

      Thank-you for your condolences. Please read the judges decision. It only takes a few minutes. Google “The Terri Schiavo Information Page” and scroll down for the link. It may give you new insights on the Terri Schiavo case. This will show you the evidence the judge had before him.

      • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

        Bob, I read the judge’s decision – all 10 pages of it. I know that you want to discuss the legal aspects of Mrs. Schiavo’s case but I didn’t write this piece from a lawyer’s perspective. As I said before, some things are legal, but that doesn’t make them right. I believe Konrad’s two comments focus on and succinctly explain the theme of my post.

  • Ron

    Not knowing Florida law, the Judge’s decision could have been correct. In addition, he might have been carrying out Mrs. Schiavo’s wishes. And I think people should have the right to choose to not receive food or hydration. On the other hand, this is such a serious decision, the law should required absolute proof of a person’s wishes This is a good example of why laws should be crafted carefully. The problem could have been avoided completely if such an importand decision had to be in writing.

    • Lacee

      You must be a lawyer too. If your daughter was in a horrible car accident that left her a veg. and you knew she didn’t want to live like that, you would find some other way other than starvation to put her out of her misery. If there was no other way, the least cruel thing to do would to let her live as a veg. Death by intentional starvation and dehydration is in no way a “natural” cause of death. Can you imagine watching your child die like that and the only thing preventing you from giving her a drop of water is the knowledge that it’ll only make her suffer longer and the fact that police will come and take you away from her in her last moments if you do? Why are we suprised, they intentionally let old people die “naturally” (meaning getting full of bed sores, bacteria and narcotics) in hospitals all the time. Who in the hell thinks law inforcement in Florida even knows the difference between a dog and a human being? They couldn’t find little Jessica even though her neighbors looked like they killed, raped and tortured little girls on a regular basis. I would never, not for a million dollars, move to Florida, simply because of the absolute lack of civility. They might as well not even have laws, if all they do is simply provide income for sadistic lawyers and cops who couldn’t find their ass even with the help of another Florida law enforcement officer. Do yourself a favor and give your kids (if you have them) a big hug and tell them that if they ever become a veg you’ll be sure to make sure they will die a slow painful death. It’s only natural. No it’s an unholy, unnatural, inhumane, not to mention flat-out selfish Floridian decision. This is what many liberals think is natural and is fair. Animals can’t defend themselves so they should be protected, but they don’t apply this philosophy to humans who cannot defend themseves like, unwanted fetuses, unwanted elderly, the unwanted sick. This philosophy and therefore the law does not make sense. This is Mrs. Salazar’s point, I think. The Humane Society is going to start having to take care of humans now. Now that’s ironic.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    You’re doing apples and oranges here.

    In order for your comparison between concern for animals and unborn humans to have merit, you’d have to compare unborn animals to unborn humans. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as animal abortion and an “unborn animal rights” movement, so I can’t say if there are people who are more concerned about unborn animals than about unborn humans. And I’m not sure how many folks there are who care more about the rights of born animals than about the rights of born humans.

    Likewise, Ms. Shivo was in a vegetative state, so you’d have to draw a comparision between her situation and an animal in a vegetative state being kept alive by machines.

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      Thanks very much, Cyberquill, for your comments. Mrs. Schiavo was not “kept alive by machines.” While one may consider a feeding tube a “machine,” she was merely provided nourishment. She was breathing on her own.

      I just don’t get how we, as a society, allow a human being to starve to death under any duly-enacted law. We would never allow an animal to starve to death.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        No, but we allow animals to be euthanized by the thousands every day in order to put them out of their misery and keep them from potentially starving to death, and also because there’s no money to take care of them all. The shelters are simply overflowing with too many abandoned cats and dogs, and there are no resources to keep all of them alive and provide humane conditions for them. So what the operators of these shelters do is they put the healthy ones up for adoption and kill those that are sick or “flawed” in any way. And PETA is helping with the euthanizing, because they simply don’t know what else to do, given the sheer numbers of poor little critters they have to deal with.

        If these were humans, we’d be talking about genocide.

        And if someone owns a very sick pet and either cannot or doesn’t want to pay for treatment, they can simply take it to the vet and have it put down. That’s why there are no pets on feeding tubes. The question of whether or not to allow a dog in a vegetative state to starve to death never arises, because that dog would have been put down long before it ever got to that point.

        If you want to argue that society is more concerned about animal welfare than human welfare, then I’m sure you’d consider it at least an improvement if we began to treat humans more like animals and simply put them down as soon as they got too sick to recover and keeping them alive became too much of an inconvenience.

        • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

          With laws and court decisions creating a “culture of death,” allowing for abortion, assisted suicide and starvation and dehydration as a means to an end, the apocalyptic view suggested by your final paragraph is exactly what concerns me. As I said in my article, for example, when will voluntary euthanasia allow for non-voluntary euthanasia?

  • CCNV

    This Schiavo case is why EVERYONE should have an advanced health care directive (living will) on file with their doctor. Also, give a copy to those you think will be able to produce the paperwork in case of such an unfortunate event.

  • chief98110

    I just want to add to my reply to Mr. Hadley, “follow the money”and read the transcripts at:
    http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/SchiavoTrialTranscript.htm.

  • Konrad Lau

    For me, the major point in this posting relates to some folks’ caring for all of God’s creatures…except for man or God.

    We will gladly save the dogs, cats, raccoons, polar bears, whales, dolphins, smelt, salmon, salamanders, owls, falcons, frogs, weeds and pond scum. We hardly bat an eye when discussing abortion or cases such as Schiavo’s.

    The law is man’s attempt to promote justice on Earth. Legal does not always equal ethical. Our judges should strive for the execution of said justice with grace assuming there is no violation of applicable Constitutional law. If an ethics question arises, waiting to clear the concerns of the family would have harmed no one.

    I refer to the current crop of do-gooders as Protectors of Everything Except Man (PEEMs). I suspect were the PEEMs as concerned with the survival of people as they are of fish, things would be much rosier here on terra firma.

    Regardless of where you stand on the legality of the Schiavo case, the way in which it was handled was shabby…to be gracious.

    • Bob Hadley

      The demagogic talking heads and the demagogic protesters were the ones who mishandled the Schiavo case. The judge is under solemn oath to execute the pertinent law according to the evidence presented to him at trial. If pertinent facts were not presented in court (which I doubt), it was the fault of one or both of the parties/attorneys.

      If the judge found that the facts of the Terri Schiavo case fell within the “right-to-die” statute and that the statute did not violate either the Florida state of United States constitutions, but refused to apply the statute to the Terri Schiavo case because, in his opinion, it was unethical, then he’d be in serious breach of his sworn duties as a judge.

      When asked to define an activist court decision, Justice Kennedy said that it’s “any court decision that you don’t like.” I think he was exactly right.

      Anyone who wanted a different result, wanted the judge to make up his own law. But the judge maintained his judicial integrity despite a widespread lynch mob mentality. The judge was ex-communicated from his church and had death threats. He was a profile in courage.

      • Lacee

        Sorry, but this Judge should have quit. He ordered the torture of a family and the improper death of another human being. That is NOT his job. Do you even know what a demagog is or do you just like using that word? Do you automatically think because someone gets death threats that it means that they made a good decision? Hmmmm. Usually, people only threaten your life when you doing something really really wrong. Not necessarily just when you are doing something important. Unfortunately in this case it was both. He could have done the right thing, not just his job. You think it’s courageous. Hm. I don’t believe in ex-communication, and I don’t want to judge, but I hope for his sake God thinks you’re right.

        • Bob Hadley

          A demagogue is someone who obtains power or position by impassioned appeals to emotions and prejudice. I can tell that you have little or no idea about our justice system. Or, maybe you just disagree with the U. S. Constitution and our founding fathers. If so, just say so.

          It is the judge’s job to apply the existing law to the evidence presented in a dispassionate manner, i.e. he must leave his emotions and his personal opinions to one side. Maybe you want a judge to disregard the professional oath he takes, the pertinent law and the evidence presented to him and decide for himself what, in his personal opinion, he should rule. This is what is known as an “activist” judge. Are you a liberal? I’ve been told repeatedly that that is what liberals think should happen. If so, what happens if the judge’s personal opinion is different from your uninformed personal opinion?
          The judiciary’s job is not to make up laws, but to apply existing laws.

          Are you aware that the undisputed, expert testimony (given by two different doctors familiar with Terri Schiavo) was that her death would be painless if her feeding tube was removed. The judge bent over backwards to be fair and to listen to everyone. Why don’t you do some investigation before you emote? Just the facts Ma’am.

          Every American president, not to mention many other politicians, in modern history has had hundreds if not thousands of death threat against them. Did they ALL do something “really really” wrong. No, death threats do not automatically make the judge’s decision “good.” If you read my posts you’d know this.

          I’m grateful that we have judges who uphold the integrity of the legal system even when doing so is extremely unpopular. Our founding fathers deliberately designed a federal judiciary to be independent of popular pressure when it is contrary to the rule of law. All judges–state and federal–are under solemn oath to apply the law to the evidence presents even or especially if unpopular. If the citizens of Florida don’t like the case law that the judge was required to apply to the facts of the Schiavo case, then they should ban together and petition the legislature to supercede the law. If they have enough support for their efforts, the law will be changed. But maybe most people in Florida don’t agree with you.

          And, finally, you don’t want to judge?????????? You’ve done nothing but judge!

          • Lacee

            I was being polite if you can believe that. Of course I’m judging. You would have to be blind and deaf not to react to your rhetoric. I would like to be a judge. I’d be a damn good judge. I am not an emotionally driven person, but for the love of being human, could you please realize that sometimes you have to look at the human side not just the technicalities of things to live civily. You cannot always just look AT THE LEGAL SIDE where the person who presents the best case or has the best lawyer wins. Not everything is black and white and not everything can be solved with numbers and legal doctrine, as important as they are. I wish I was there so you could look me in the face and tell me that you don’t believe the ex-husband only wanted the money and that even if he did, that it doesn’t matter in the legal system. I do not believe in activist judges. Activist judges only rule in the favor of child molesters and sexual assualters. What I said is that he should have not ruled at all. In this rare case he should have stepped down and made his own personal sacrifice. He should have allowed himself to be arrested, or disbarred to make a statement to the rest of the world. If I WAS a judge, This is what I would have done. Maybe you think I should not ask so much of another human being, but that is what I expect from a person who is not only humane, but a person who can understand that sometimes you have to lay your life on the line to do the right thing. I also think you are confused about what I said about death threats. Everyone who’s famous gets death threats. Snookie get’s death threats for Christ’s sake. I’m saying that death threats are insignificant except for the fact that someone might actuall carry one out. There’s nothing you can do about that. Also, I’m sorry if I touched a nerve by mentioning children you may or may not have, but that is exactly my point. You are not seperate from Terri. You are just as responsible for her as any person. It is irresponsible to depend on lawyers and legal neuances (especially in FL) to make moral decisions. If you think this is always the case, you are completely bonkers!!! A TOOL, actually. We would not even have a Constitution if our founding fathers had not rejected what was known for centuries as the “rules of war” and the legalities of fighting against a fairly well-working establishment. When laws begin to destroy our compassion we have for each other and causes us to remove ourselves from a fight simply because we believe we are not qualified to debate it, maybe because we are emotional about it- that’s when we have crossed the line in our modern society. That’s when we have forgotten what our forefathers faught for. That’s when we start our quick decent into inhumanity. So much for progress. I’m about as conservative as a human can be. I want to conserve life and our humanity. You sound like you’d rather conserve lawyers. Maybe because you are one.

          • Bob Hadley

            Lacee,

            First, why don’t you do some investigation? Read the Terri Schiavo decision carefully. Read through the trial transcript. When you become informed a different picture emeges. I suspect that you are afraid of reading carefully these documents. If you did, you may very well need to abandon your emotional investment in your current uninformed view.

            Contrary to what you say, you favor activist judges. But only activist judges who rule according to what you think is right. From what I hear, that makes you a liberal. An activist judge is basically result-oriented. He rules according to what he thinks is right, not according to law.

            “could you please realize that sometimes you have to look at the human side not just the technicalities of things to live civily” Your words. In everyday life, this is true. But when you’re a judge in a courtroom, you’re in a different world. There, the rule of law comes into play.

            Both sides in the Terri Schiavo case had good lawyers and had every chance to present all the pertinent evidence they wanted. The judge found 1) that both sides had a financial interest in the outcome of the case but that their motives were not particularly relevant 2) that most relevant was to determine if Terri would have wanted her feeding tube removed when in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery 3) that Mr. Schiavo had visited Terrri far more than anyone else 4) that Mr. Schiavo had singlec handedly made darn sure that Terri was receving the best care (in fact, the home where Terrri was considered Mr. Schiavo to be a pain in the neck at time) 5) that there was ample evidence that Terri had made clear that if she were in that condition that she didn’t want to be kept alive and 5) that the undisputed medical testimony was that Terri would not experience a painful death if her tube was removed.

            Do us both a favor. Before you fire off another reply, read carefully the judge’s decision and the trial transcripts. Google “The Terri Schiavo Information Page” for the judge’s decision. The link for the trial transcript is in another post above.

  • Bob Hadley

    Leona,

    I still get a bit surprised when I hear lawyers perpetuating misinformation about the Terry Schiavo case. There were essentially two issues facing the trial court: 1) Did the facts bring the case within Florida’s so-called right-to die-statute (you know, as in the law that Florida judges–state and, if applicable, federal– are sworn to uphold) and 2) if so, does that statute violate either the United States or Florida state consitutions (the documents that Florida judges are sworn to uphold).

    I haven’t read the transcript of the hearing (have you?), but apparently the trial judge apparently found clear and convincing evidence that Terry Schiavo had verbally and clearly express her wishes not to be kept alive if in a persistent vegetative state. In addition, apparently the judge did not find a constitutional violation. Ergo, it would have been unethical for him to have ruled any other way. And, appelate judges could not find any reversible (legal) error. And, as you know, the judge could not have ordered that she be mercifully put to death. What was he to do?

    The judge was appointed by President H W Bush, is an evangelical Christian and a consevative jurist. To rule otherwise would make him an activist judge.

    I sympathize with many of the sentiments you express above, but you know that we are a nation of laws. You make it sound as if the trial court made its decision based on its opinion of or attitude toward Teri Schiavo. That decision could well have ripped out the heart of the trial judge.

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      Thanks for your comments, Bob. The main point of my article is Mrs. Schiavo’s painful death – by starvation and dehydration. My other point, as expressed below, was the amount of time between her collapse in 1990, the intervening malpractice lawsuit during which the estranged husband never mentioned his wife’s wish not to be kept alive by artificial means, and then his memory of her wishes in 1998 when he sought to obtain a court order to remove her feeding tube. How he did not remember her wishes in 1990 but somehow remembered them eight years later was always very suspect to me. Don’t we remember things much clearer at the time of an occurrence rather than years later?

      • Bob Hadley

        Why don’t you get the trial transcripts or talk to someone intimate with that case? Then, you might get the answers. I would assume that Mr. Schiavo was rigorously cross-examined. If the questions you raise are valid, I would think Mr. Schiavo must have been compelled to have a good answer to convince that conservative, evangelical judge to apply Florida’s “right to die” statute. Otherwise, the opposing attorney committed malpractice. Maybe you should direct your questions to him.

        My experience is that when you take a hard look at the facts of a controversial case, a different picture often emerges than that painted by the various media. And, remember, there are a lot of demogagues out there who make up their own facts to suit their ends. Often the various “news” media will give those demagogues a lot airing because they’re good for ratings.

        You didn’t answer my question: given the trial judge’s findings of fact and law, what option did he have? He obviously couldn’t have ordered that someone execute her. He had to abide by the statute.

        Again, I sympathize with some of your general sentiments in this article and some in your other articles, but bringing up the Teri Schiavo case as you did was misleading. Maybe you should have asked how the State of Florida could have passed such a law.

      • Bob Hadley

        Leona,

        Sorry, I was wrong about the legal basis for the judge’s decision. I just read his decision. There’s a cite under “The Terri Schiavo Information Page.” I suggest you read it. Although not as comprehensive as it could have been for an important case like this, it was instructive.

        The judge’s decision was based on controlling case law.

    • chief98110

      I’d like to give you a little information on the Schiavo case. The transcripts are readable at: http://www.lydiamcgrew.com/SchiavoTrialTranscript.htm
      Due to an error by the original attorney who was representing Terry’s parents in their challenge to unseat Mr. Schiavo as guardian for his wife the only issue before the court was the removal of the feeding tube. Because the original attorney Richard Pearse agreed to dismiss the parents petition for guardianship of Terry with prejudice they were barred from challenging Mr. Schiavo plan(page 682).
      The court appointed GAL on cross examination by Mr Schiavos own attorney explained the conflict between Mr. Schiavos original efforts to keep Terry alive and his change of heart after the settlement money was in the bank(page717).
      My point is that you need to look at the motive behind Mr Schiavos actions.

      • Bob Hadley

        Thanks for the link. But I’m not necessarily defending Mr. Schiavo. I’m just saying that, given the judge’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, he had no choice but to follow the statute in question.

        I’m satisfied that this judge is conscientious and would not take this case (or any case) lightly. He takes his official responsibilities seriously. My inquiry would begin with why the judge made his factual findings. Do you know why the judge ruled the way he did? What evidence did he rely on? What was the contrary evidence, other than circumstantial evidence regarding Mr. Schiavo’s motives?

        Again, thanks for the link. I’ll try to find time to read the transcripts before too long.

        • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

          Thanks Chief98110 for providing all of us with the transcripts. As I wrote, Mr. Schiavo’s actions, and the timing of them, were suspect.

          As a nation, we’ve voted for Presidents who appointed activist Judges who interpreted the Constitution to allow for the killing of the unborn, we’ve voted for legislators who enacted laws like the one in Florida which gave the Judge no choice but to apply it to Mrs. Schiavo’s situation, and the electorate approves laws such as the recently-enacted assisted suicide law here in Washington.

          Just because these actions are legal, doesn’t make them morally right. Under no circumstances, will I ever concede that killing a human being by starvation and dehydration is justifiable or acceptable – whether the law permits it or not. It is a shame that we, as a civilized nation, continue to tolerate the failure of our elected officials and judiciary to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us – the unborn and the “useless.” I just don’t get it.

          • Bob Hadley

            Chief and Leona,

            I’ve looked through the transcripts although, admittedly, I have not read everything. It appears as though both sides were repesented ably. Michael Schiavo was cross-examined rigorously,

            I saw the parts where the parents voluntary dismissed the petition to replace Michael as Teri’s guradian on the condition that Michael did not pursue them for his attorney’s fees and costs. I have not found the reason for the dissmisal, however, a party typically does not voluntarily dismiss their action (particularly one like this) unless they’ve reached a satisfactory out-of-court resolution or unless they realize that they have poor (legal) case. I strongl suspect the latter. Their attorney could not have dismissed the case without their express (and probably written) consent. And Teri’s parents apparently filed and dismissed this case while they all still had hope that Teri would recover.

            In Michael’s malpractice suit, were Teri’s wishes regarding being kept alive in that state even relevant? At the trial in this case, Michael was cross-examined as to why he waited so long after giving up hope before he tried to have her feeding tubes removed. Unless i missed, he was not questioned why he did not raise Teri’s alleged wishes during the malpractice case.

            There were apparently two witnesses, other than Michael, who testified in detail that Terri stated she definitely did not want to be kept alive artificially if there was no hope for her to recover. Teri made one such statement when a grandmother (either Teri’s or Michael’s) was at first going to be kept alive by a feeding tube when she was in a persistent vegatative state. Her feeding tube was removed when the family showed the doctors a living will documenting that she did not want to live like that. Teri allegedly said that she would also have wanted her feeding tube removed.

            Thus, Michael’s motives were not too relevant. Even if the judge did not find him credible, this may have nothing to do with the two other witneses’ testimony. They were both related to Michael. But, apparently the judge found their testimony credible, even after rigorous cross-examination.

            Michael apparently had an expert witness (whose testimony I have not yet read) who said death by dehydration in the manner that Teri eventually died did not involve a long, painful death.

            The judge took a couple of weeks to issue his written decision. He took copious notes at trial. I will try to find his written decision.

            “Under no circumstances, will I ever concede that killing a human being by starvation and dehydration is justifiable or acceptable…”

            Leona, you sound absolute here. Would you still feel this way if you knew that that was definitely what Teri would have wanted? I’ve had a lot of seniors tell me that they don’t want to be kept alive when they’re in that condition with no hope of recovery.. Since there is no asisted suicide law in Hawaii (unless just recently enacted, but I don’t think so), the only other option is to keep the person alive against his wishes.

            After my Dad had a series of radiation treatments and had a few chemo treatments for his cancer, he told us it was his time to go. We had all been very supportive and positive throughout. We all wanted him to live. Although he was weak and not in good shape, he insisted that he did not want to eat anything, and to only have a drink when taking his pain meds. What do you think we should have done in that case? (I realize these facts are a little different from the Schiavo case.)

            By the way, he died three weeks later. From all appearances, his passing was peaceful.

  • robin

    Though my passion in life has ,and always will be animals and wildlife, I certainly would not condone starving a human and having them die a slow and painful death anymore then i would an animal. It just comes down to right or wrong to me. both are wrong(though i have seen cases where i will admit i could probably do something dreadful to the humans, as in ones that did horrific crimes that WITHOUT a doubt they were guilty of)….
    I am afraid that organization such as the ‘crazies’ at PETA have made all us all that truly love and help animals look like a bunch of extremists, NOT always the case. With some of us it is just a passion we have been born into, but some of us also have compassion with cases of humans too….just NOT ones that abuse animals.

  • Roger Ward

    Mrs. Schiavo was clearly not able to communicate her wishes, so the court, correctly, went to her next of kin to do so on her behalf. If you have a problem here, it is with her estranged husband.

    I remember the case well and am sorry that she had to die …. but the alternatives would be worse: (1) the court could make a live or die decision for her (even though she had family members who could make that decision) or (2) the court could disallow all family members any standing in speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves (not likely, but given the government’s propensity for intruding into citizens’ lives, who knows?) Whatever our dissatisfaction with the Schiavo case, I don’t know how it could have been different …. unless you’re willing to give that decision making power to the courts, rather than the family. I’m not willing.

    It serves no useful purpose to contrast the rights of humans with the rights of animals. Animals don’t choose to marry and become estranged from a spouse. Animals don’t ask for anything …. but since they can suffer mightily, we have a moral obligation to take care of them. I do not equate the value of animals and humans. If there is ever a choice between the death of an animal and the death of a human, I say save the human and let the animal die. Having said that, we still have a moral obligation to be compassionate in how we treat all of God’s creatures. I don’t know if animals have “rights” greater than the rights of Micheal Vick but I do know that in that case, I’m with the dogs!

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      I agree with you that end-of-life decisions should be left up to the individual or to his or her next of kin and definitely not the courts. However, Mrs. Schiavo’s tragedy began in 1990 and ended in 2005. My main concern was the way in which Mrs. Schiavo was ordered by the courts to die – by starvation and dehydration. My second concern is that her estranged husband never mentioned her “wish to die” during the malpractice action in which the jury awarded $700+K for his wife’s therapy and medical treatment and $600K to him for his loss, but, somehow remembered her wishes in 1998 (when I believe the $$$ started to run out) when he petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube removed. The whole story can be read at http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=29516. I still contend her she should not have been allowed to starve to death and that her family, who asked for nothing in return, should have been able to care for her.

  • David in Texas

    Thank you for writing this Leona.