If Schiavo Why Not Jones? (1)
If the U.S. House and Senate agree on a law which President Bush signs tomorrow which will permit the family of Terri Schiavo to attempt to overturn 7 years of detailed and consistent judgments in the Florida courts by starting the whole process in the federal courts, does everyone realize what the consequences of this action would be? Unless the federal courts refuse to take up the case because, for example, considering the congressional action unconstitutional, this precedent could be applied to hundreds or even many more instances throughout the country where there is a conflict between family and a legal surrogate of a incompetent patient regarding termination of life support after taken to state court and the family is unsatisfied with the judgments. If there is no agreement to generalize a law to include all conflicting judgments in termination of life support issues, this would mean that the Congress would be engaging most of their time and energy in preparing a law for each case.
If all parties in the Congress agree on a law that applies to every case, then it would put a great work burden on the federal courts after the work and delays by state courts. Such an unreasonable cumulative delay in carrying out the ethical request by the patient as represented by the surrogate would turn this legal practice into gross malificence and disrespect for the ill patient.
What the Congress and presumably the President is forgetting is who is the person who deserves the actions in the best interest. It is not the President, the Congress, the court system, political or religious groups, news media, the legal surrogate or the family. It is the patient. And what is in the patient’s best interest? It certainly is not the moral, philosophical, political or emotionally based views by any of these parties. Any self-interest by others beyond that of the patient is ethically unacceptable. The patient’s best interest is served only by following the autonomous request to stop unwanted treatment. Let’s hope that if the Schiavo case goes to the federal court system, judges there will use understanding and reason rather than the bizarre behavior of our Congress. ..Maurice.