Schiavo case: Justice for All?
As we are awaiting the decision of the courts this morning, particularly the decision of the United States Supreme Court, we should be considering the outcome of this case from another ethical point of view: the ethical principle of justice (impartiality and fairness).
It should be no secret that all over the United States, every single day, doctors and hospital ethics committees are considering whether to terminate all kinds of life supportive treatment for patients who have the capacity to make medical decisions and those who do not have that capacity. There may be surrogates, legal or otherwise or occasionally no surrogates appear or can be found. Many of these patients have written no advance directive. Some families of the patient are in agreement with the physician’s advice, some are not.
If judgments are made by the courts today or tomorrow to overturn the long adjudicated case of Terri Schiavo and only Terri Schiavo will justice really be served? No. What happens to all the patient throughout the country, who had no capacity to decide and no living will, but had or will have today, tomorrow or next week decisions made by surrogates or physicians/ethics committees? Their life support has been or is going to be removed, they will die but will they have the same opportunity as Terri to have the President rush, the Congress rush, state legislators rush to create laws specifically intended to keep that individual patient alive? If not, there is no justice in our political or legal system. ..Maurice.