Gut Rumbles

March 24, 2005

the beat goes on

My darlin' blog-niece stirred up a storm with the post she wrote about Terri Shavio. Some of the comments on her blog and on the post where I linked to her are very interesting. In fact, some of those comments reflect some really sharp minds wrestling with a difficult ethical question.

I believe that kind of thinking is healthy for a good society. We SHOULD wrestle with this kind of ethical dilemma. We SHOULD question the law when we believe that it is wrong. But you can't just jump up and yell "CHANGE IT!" over one case that I find very murky the more I explore it.

From personal experience: when I was called to the hospital on October 12, 1992, my father was dying. My mama was a wreck. Dad was improving for the past couple of days and he was looking forward to being Best Man at my wedding when I married Jennifer. Then, he relapsed badly, all of a sudden.

I talked to a doctor who appeared to be half my age and he gave me a couple of options for treatment. I rejected those. I asked if he could make my father comfortable and out of pain while nature took its course. He assured me that he could. I chose door #3 and called my brother to get to the hospital as quickly as he could. (He was on vacation in Nashville at the time) We were all there when dad died.

I made the right decision.

When mama went into Hospice, I sat on the back porch and cried while I talked to the nurse. I insisted on two things-- you will keep her comfortable and out of pain, and you will DO NOTHING extraordinary to keep her alive. I was assured that they gave pallitive care only and they would not prolong my mama's suffering. They kept their word. Mama died peacefully, in her sleep.

I've MADE those choices--- TWICE in my life. And I am convinced that I made the right choice both times. A lot of you commenters get really off-base when you ask "What if Jennifer had the power to pull the plug on YOU?" Well, I hope she would if I were in that situation. As I've said before, there's a big difference between being alive and living.

I don't believe that the woman should starve to death. One shot with a good drug will bring everything to an end quickly and mercifully. THAT'S what I would want.

We do it to our pets. Why not for her?


MB was faced with that same question about her mother and did the same.....palliative care, only !!

Posted by: MommaBear on March 24, 2005 02:16 PM

I've been fascinated with what people are saying about this case and also disappointed with what appears to be a serious breakdown in civil discourse. I'm concerned about the fissures between us deepening. That's not to say that dissent and disagreement are the problems. The inability to discuss a topic without drawing a line beween me-and-you and without resorting to self-righteous anger is an illness falling on us like a plague. There's been a lot of buzz in traditional media about bloggers' new found voices, but the one thing that's missing in the community is a sense of responsibility to the greater dialog.

The funny thing is how simple discourse can be. I believe something and I articulate it. Then you ask questions to expose areas where I may have faltered in my thinking. I ask questions about what you're saying and so on. In the the end you don't get one person who wins the argument, a trophy or brownie points and one person who get two sides who understand what it is they believe more and are in a better position to act on it. It might not be the best system possible, but it's all we've really got.

Well, look at that. I've gone off on a rant. Thanks for your time, nice blog and I'm glad to see someone else talking a little bit of sense out here.

Posted by: Flash Q. Fiasco on March 24, 2005 02:35 PM

You are correct in saying that the decision should be the person closest to the suffering, and I hope that I am never faced with making that choice.
I would hope that I would do as you did and just allow pallitive care and a gentle release.

This is a different type of case than those you had to decide though, that is not what is happening here.

The ONLY reason Terri is dying is because MS wants to let her starve.

We wouldn't execute a criminal in this manner without the moonbats crying foul to high heaven. It would have been much better to just give her an overdose of Morphine and let her exit peacefully asleep. The law won't allow that, but it will allow her to suffer an agonizing death that could take up to two weeks? And thats just?

We will never know just how much function that Terri may have regained, had MS allowed rehabilitative care.

We actually can't even be SURE of her true state of awareness, since all diagnostic tests to determine that were forbidden by MS.

There are just too many unanswered questions here. There can be no good outcome here.

Posted by: delftsman3 on March 24, 2005 02:37 PM

You do not know the facts of the case that you have chosen to blog upon. You are assuming them, based on what happened to YOU, not according to what is happening in that hospice. If we stipulate that it is sometimes right to euthanize people, it does not automatically follow that Shiavo ought to be euthanized, unless it is true that it is not possible to EVER inappropriately euthanize someone. If you conceed that it is possible for circumstances to exist in which it is not proper to use state force to prevent people from giving a brain damaged person a glass of water, then it is likely that the circumstances of this case (which you can find by following links on SondraKs blog and mine, for starters) are exactly those sort of circumstances.

Re: Your assertion that this is not the perogative of Congress - Does the Congress have any legitimate function at all, if not checking the authority of the courts? Would it be constitutional for Judges to answer to NO ONE AT ALL?

Posted by: Dave Munger on March 24, 2005 04:48 PM

Cause we LOVE our pets...and we can't always trust those making decisions for US.

Posted by: Maggie on March 24, 2005 05:14 PM

"We do it for our pets. Why not for her?"

That's exactly - exactly! - the question my mother was asking when she was on her way out 17 years ago. "Why can't they do something?"

Rob, you had two difficult situations to handle, but I don't think I would've done any different - and I wouldn't want any different for myself. Ease my passage, and don't bust your ass trying to keep me around when there's no longer any point.

Of course, I have this in writing.

Posted by: Elisson on March 24, 2005 05:15 PM

Oh, yeah - and if you take the time to read the report of Jay Wolfson, the Guardian Ad Litem whao was appointed for Terri Schiavo, you would see that husband Michael was in fact very aggressive about exerting all rehabilitative measures - at least, up until 1994, when it became apparent that there was not going to be a good outcome with Terri jumping up out of bed.

Agonizing death? Gawd, I would hope not. The whole point is that Terri is beyond suffering on a conscious level at this point. Whether it's the stupid, slow way or the quick way that many people have profound discomfort with, she's not aware of what's going on.

And Dave - The judges are there to interpret the laws that the legislatures write and the executive branch implements. That's how our Constitution set things up. If you don't like a legal decision, you appeal it - and after you get to the Supreme Court, you're stuck with it. The alternative - to have Congress writing laws that apply to one person at a time - is completely ridiculous. Don't like it? Well, if Congress and the Executive really don't like the opinions that get handed down, they can, as existing justices retire, replace them with ones better suited to their ideology. That's a slow, slow, difficult process...for good reason.

Posted by: Elisson on March 24, 2005 05:30 PM

I've been all over the chart with this issue for the past few weeks. Ultimately, I guess I agree with you in regards to this being a decision that should be made by the husband...despite the fact that he strikes me as a slimeball. I don't trust him and I don't believe for one second that he knows what Terri would want one way or another.

On the other hand, I don't believe the parents truly know one way or another either. I do believe, however, that they are doing the right thing for THEMSELVES. There's a lot of frustration being expressed towards them in the press and around the internet. I think people need to remember that they deserve this opportunity to do everything in their power to save their daughter because it's the only way they'll be able to deal with the loss when she is gone. They will be able to take comfort in the fact that they did everything they could and exploited every legal opportunity in order to try and save their daughter. It will be small comfort, I'm sure...but emotionally, they'll be better off I think.

It's a sad situation all around.

Posted by: Chablis on March 24, 2005 05:44 PM

Oh...and as far as your ex is concerned...we both know she'd have kept you alive just because she knows it would piss you off LOL.

Posted by: Chablis on March 24, 2005 05:45 PM

> and after you get to the Supreme Court,
> you're stuck with it.

How fucking civilized you are, you good German. I must have misplaced my fucking decoder ring, as I missed the part that say's that the Supreme Court has absolute, unchecked authority over all legislatures, was under the impression that they pulled that out of their asses.

Sorry to get emotional about the state and the medical profession making themselves accessories to murder, I figured people here would understand, since you'll accept a fucking Garison Keilor anecdote as an argument for an irreversible policy decision in a case with ENTIRELY DIFFERENT circumstances.

>to have Congress writing laws that apply to
>one person at a time - is completely ridiculous

Well we can't have them continue to do things in the ridiculous way that they've done for 100's of years, can we? What do you think those jackoffs do all day, pass laws that are binding on everyone? That'd be dozens of brand new federal laws a day. They've always killed time passing harmless little crap about granting some retarded guy a monopoly on peddling donuts on the capitol steps or something. Every bootlicking, judge trusting little shit who jacks off to a Janet Reno poster (and who's fear that if they get hurt someday, mommy might not make it stop immediately trumps every sense of caution and decency and respect for, yes, the rule of law, rather than of men) is a motherfucking constitutional scholar this week, aren't they?

Make up your mind bitch, the compelling case for killing this person (who's already dead), by not letting people put water in her mouth (since she couldn't swallow it, and we wouldn't want a person who can't feel anything to suffer THAT indignity) is that not doing so would be prolonging her suffering.

Would you take a good look at who's in aggreement with you Acidman? It dosen't prove anything, but it should give you pause.

Posted by: Dave Munger on March 24, 2005 06:49 PM

Dave, I have managed to have rational discourse with almost everyone I have encountered in this case, and up until now, nobody has personally insulted me in comments. You broke my streak, shithead.

You pass judgement on me because I agree with Rob on this? Fine. All I have to do is take one look at your hysterical screed to see that you're too fired up to make any fucking sense at all. You're acting like just like my aunt Ruby when she forgets her nerve pill. Judgement also passed.

Posted by: Queenie on March 24, 2005 07:04 PM

I really don't understand where Dave Munger is coming from. He obviously has a different picture of constitutional law than I do.

Or maybe he has no picture at all.

Posted by: Acidman on March 24, 2005 07:19 PM

Uncle Rob: I suspect the latter.

Posted by: Queenie on March 24, 2005 07:23 PM

You were right the first time, you don't understand.

Posted by: Dave Munger on March 24, 2005 07:52 PM

Queenie: I don't remember mentioning you. Certain acts and statements are contemtible, regardless of their source, and not to point that out would be condecending, IMO. If it would have been a little clearer less Anglo-Saxon terminology, then I should have left that out. However, if you do not comprehend what I wrote, there is at least one other possible reason for that than that it makes no sense.

Acid: Sure did grow a lot of regard for state's rights since your last Roe v Wade post.

If no one else here will tell me what the limit of judicial authority is to be, then maybe I should venture a guess: They can't appoint their own successors. Is that it, is that the only legitimate constraint on them?

Posted by: Dave Munger on March 24, 2005 08:20 PM

So what you suggest is that the legislature helps litigants venue-shop whenever it doesn't like the outcome of a state judicial decision? Of what purpose then, if any at all, are the state courts? Why don't we just have the Congress step in and adjudicate all interpersonal disputes of this type?

Look, man - whether you like the outcome of this specific case or not, the judicial system in Florida was doing its job, functioning as it was designed to function, until the Right-to-Life lobby got the governor and the president involved. Where was the president when doctors killed that little "Sun" kid in Texas last week - that little kid who was conscious, responsive, and had more chance at recovery than Terri Schiavo ever will, that little kid that they allowed to suffocate to death, also painful and frightening - against the parental wishes, and mostly because the money ran out? Allowed, may I remind you, under a state law that Bush himself signed into law as governor? Where was the congress then?

Oh, sorry. Sun was a baby. A little black one. There was no sexed-up rumour mill about a husband, no Randall Terry screaming to the rooftops on his behalf, and no rich parents to generate media interest...guess his life wasn't one of those we should "err on the side" of?

Go read the Wolfson Report, please? And understand that nobody is saying that the supreme court is to be totally free of checks and balances - it can neither create nor execute law - all they can do is interpret. All they've said here is that this is a state matter, over and over again, five times now.

And take a nerve pill, Aunt Ruby.

Posted by: Queenie on March 24, 2005 08:50 PM

Mir. Munger is irrationally angry. He needs anger management. Terri Schiavo is brain dead. Neurologists say her frontal lobes are liquid and she will never get better regardless of what the brain dead Christians would have us believe. She can't feed herself, she is incapable of pouring herself of glass of water. She can't even swallow food fed to her. The poor woman died a long time ago. So, step back Nascar fans, let nature take it's course. A hospice knows how to handle this, doctors know how to make it peaceful and pain free. Get the fuck out of the way and shut the fuck up about it. Oh, and have a nice day :-}

Posted by: Beth on March 24, 2005 08:59 PM

Oh, and Delftsman3? Either you're listening and reading about a completely different case or you are soooooo fucking stupid you should have your modem confiscated.

Posted by: Beth on March 24, 2005 09:05 PM

Be careful what you wish for, Acidman. Jennifer is liable to do something to you to put you in that position.

Of course she'd wait until you're done paying child support.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on March 24, 2005 09:45 PM

No Beth, I read what the transcripts of the medical reports said, and not just what the court gave the Ad Litum....Those Neurologists you spoke of were going off of a 10 year old X-RAY.

Terri has NEVER had a Cat or Pet scan, or an electroencephlegraph, which would be needed to conclusively prove a PVS.

These test were refused by her husband.

There are at least THREE affidavits by care providers that contend that Mr. Schiavo showed blatent disregard for her welfare.

That PDF from the Ad Litum only covered those items allowed into evidence by Judge Greer, so in effect, that information is a stacked deck.

All I'm saying is that there are too many unanswered questions/questionable discrepencies to kill a person in this manner.
And make no mistake, it IS killing. If that is the goal, I would prefer that it be done as humanely as we would a pet, or a convicted murderer, not an agonizing (for ALL concerned) two week process.

Posted by: delftsman3 on March 24, 2005 10:07 PM


Everyone do some real hard, serious research into this case, because I have read little in all the posts and comments except anecdotal tales, rumbling guts of emotionalism, and verbatim repetition from the MSM. Objectivity? Nada.

Michael Schiavo and his lawyer contend, in heresay fashion, that Terri wanted to die were she ever in such condition. Knowing she was true to her faith, and knowing the principles of her faith very well, I can quickly, though admittedly superficially, tell you that Schiavo and his lawyer are pulling the wool over our eyes. Faithful Roman Catholics (those who hold to what the church teaches, not renegades), whatever you might think of them, do not endorse euthanasia, and they know it is the flip side of the abortion coin.

NOW--understand the heart of this case!

We have what we have, AND WE KNOW ONLY WHAT WE KNOW--from a man who was cheating on his wife, has fathered two children with his mistress, and who refuses to divorce Terri and go away and leave the rest of us alone. We already know (or should!), that Mikey Boy is a liar and a cheat. Does that have no bearing? Jeezopete!

His lawyer Felos wants this stage, because he favors euthanasia, as did Jack Kervorkian.

I give Kervorkian more credit . . . at least he practiced what he preached, and went to jail for killing citizens. Felos gets what he wants without penalty, and uses all the players in the Schiavo case to get what he wants, which is what the liberal left wants. To watch the Gut Rumbles bedrock conservative clan rally around a government (GOVERNMENT, GUT) court's decision to advocate involuntary termination of a citizen's life without spot-on proof the citizen desired such, is ludicrous.

No, it is criminal. But since it is a government court, we must all go lemming-like and follow the leader over the cliff.

It also shows how far the liberal left has extended its agenda into what is supposedly conservative America.

I answered Queenie's quirky questions and assertions over at last night's post and comments, and with this post, I conclude trying to constitutionally reason with conservatives who have lost their moorings.

But I will say this (which might cause the honest folks to scatter far and wide in research of ALL matters and FACTS (those inconvenient little devils) in this case:

I will publicly retract all my comments, and apologize to any and all, if ALL of you will agitate for a total and complete physical examination of Terri Schiavo, including her x-ray history dating all the way back to her so-called collapse. If you are going to advocate the death of another human being, then YOU damn well ought to do so knowing ALL the facts I do not like Dubya at all, but for once he let himself be freed of the politician that posesses his spirit, and admitted government must "err on the side of life." I give him his due for that. For once in his administration, he has acted constitutionally.

If a full medical examination of Terri, including the early x-rays and reports, are examined and made public, I am certain Michael Schiavo will find he has very much in common with Scott Peterson.

Schiavo, like OJ, got the better lawyer.

And we, out here in la-la land, we trust GOVERNMENT courts to uphold what is right.

Government courts, Gut. Hint?

Uh . . . yeah, sure. From what I have read favoring forcing the death of Terri, she is the least brain-damaged of all.

Michael Schiavo figured out how to "legally" finish what he himself had botched--murdering his wife. And I read the words of ill-informed, uninformed conservattives supporting this adulterous, murderous asshole.

Well, you folks just go ahead and do so. You are destroying the very constitutionality of your own life you say you are defending.

They say the view as one is falling from the cliff is beautiful. Of course, none of the lemmings actualy survived to say so in person.

This time, Terri is being pushed over the cliff. Not she is not able to say anything either, so I guess that makes it ok and all.

Right, Sports Fans? Let government kill another free citizen, rally to support it, too. Bibba boom, bidda bang! Hot damn, ain't America great?

I am not ashamed to be what I am--an American. Biut I am damn sure ashamed of some fellow Americans who refuse to be Americans when push come to shove.

Gramsci was right. Make them comfortable and they will accept anything.

Hail, Alex!

Posted by: jb on March 24, 2005 10:50 PM

I am angry. It is arguable that this is a rational response.

No doctor has diagnosed her as brain dead. But I suppose if that's a mere pejorative for a layperson to throw around, then all Christians are braindead too, and should thus be dehydrated to death.

Since it's impossible for her to swallow, I guess that's why the court forbade anyone to try putting any water in her mouth. That could kill her! If she couldn't swallow she'd have been producing drool by the pint and completely dehydrated days ago.

Queenie's aunt sounds cool.

Posted by: Dave Munger on March 24, 2005 10:51 PM

Before anyone else point to the Guardian ad Litem report (Wolfson Report) as a factual documents, please remember that this case, deciding whether or not a woman should live, was decided in PROBATE proceedings.

IOW, a civil proceeding. No jury of ones peers, no requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but by the lesser standard of "clear and convinving evidence"., which only means that the (probate) judge must be convinced.

This is the judge who appointed the GAL whose report some people point to as 'factual and impartial'. The first GAL recommended against Michael Schiavo being allowed to authorize removal of the feeding tube because, according to him, Michael had a conflict of interest, that being that he stood to inherit $700,000.

Michael's lawyer petitioned the court to have that GAL fired. Either he was right and fired unjustly, or GALs are fallible.

The construct of a civil trial is not sufficient to issue a death sentence to someone who was physically healthy before have food and water denied.

This is not someone who was 'dying' of some disease or old age, and as a result refusing food. She is not on a respirator or heart pump.

She sustained a brain injury and requires assistance eating because she lost/forgot/needs to relearn swallowing food. She already swallows her own salive - she's not aspirated and doesn't 'drool'. Comparing Terri Schiavo to a loved one who was dying and 'let go', which I have also had to do, is not a fair comparison.

Posted by: Joe on March 25, 2005 07:17 PM

It is sad. I thought our hospitals are to protect and heal us. Next time we get in an accident they might say...oops he or she won't live and we need some organs. The Government shouldn't have got involved nor should they have had to......MS should be charged for muder.......Oh by the way.....the man that so loves her doesn't he have a common law wife and two kids. How long has he had this common law wife and kids....

There are disturbing issues here:

1. Fidelity surely isnít in Michael's favor,

2. Refuses to divorce Terri,

3. Michael says, he only complying to her wishes; to die rather suffer,

Which is questionable; no will was made! Once you leave a relationship for another you could careless about the past,

4. Heís watered down concerns just donít add up,

5. Terriís parents are willing to take care of her, he wants to kill her! Really Why?

6. Perhaps thereís other hidden issue we donít know of.

I could relate for with Michael if he didn't have the "common law" wife and had given the parents more rights. It seems like he just wanted it over...but if he didn't want to deal why not give the custody to the parents and if he did care why the children.....if it looks like shit, smells like shit and its name is Michael Shavio then it's SHIT, lol.

Posted by: Mary on March 31, 2005 12:30 PM

Mae Magouirk safe for now. See Tekgnosis for further details.

Tell the Media to report the REAL Schiavo polls!

My account, etc. of Terri Schindler's Funeral Mass:

Main page:

Posted by: Juan Schoch on April 12, 2005 12:08 AM
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