Bioethics Discussion Blog: Schiavo Case: Some Real Priorities for Congressional Interventions

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Schiavo Case: Some Real Priorities for Congressional Interventions

Two ethicists have written on a bioethics list some very, very pertinent questions regarding need for additional congressional intervention that would affect the lives of many more people and be much more within the responsibilities of Congress and the President than what they did last night. ..Maurice.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Will someone please let me know when Congress convenes an emergency
session, and the president returns early from vacation and signs a bill
in the early morning hours to:

a) intervene to prevent the death of a child starving from poverty?
b) "err on the side of life" with regard to a capital punishment case?
c) move a Medicaid program from the state's purview to federal purview
because of concern for the lives at stake?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
This national obsession with the Schiavo case yet
again reminds me of the venerable quote (attributed to
Stalin, no less) "A single death is a tragedy, a
million deaths is a statistic"

Where was the national outcry from our political
leaders when Time magazine ran its cover story about
the AIDS pandemic in Africa a few years ago:
http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,1101010212,00.html

Or when it more recently ran a cover story about the
death of 8 million people worldwide each year because
of extreme poverty:
http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,1101050314,00.html

In some way, the intense focus this case has generated
reminds me of the Bijanis, the conjoined twins who
underwent risky surgery to be separated. These tragic
cases generate such enormous media attention that no
larger issues dealing with health care access or
poverty can ever hope to match them for emotional
power.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1 Comments:

At Tuesday, March 22, 2005 8:44:00 AM, Blogger DrTony said...

Good points. The issues you detailed, while not necessarily addressed in special session, have already been on the federal plate for a long time.

Look at this as a civil rights issue. TS's parents have argued that her civil rights are being violated here. They argue that the reviewing judge was biased and that he didn't allow testimony that disagreed with his preconceived view. Why shouldn't the federal courts review this?

In the 60's, the federal government intervened in states' issues on multiple occasions for civil rights issues, look at the workers killed in Mississippi. More recently, the federal government tried, and convicted, LA city police for violation of Rodney King's civil rights. This was after they were acquitted in state court of criminal charges.

As for the extraordinary circumstances here, both the President (JFK) and Attorney General (RK) of the United States personally intervened in the case of a pastor who was jailed in Birmingham, AL, at the request of his wife. Was that reasonable? Yes, indeed.

There is considerable disagreement between physicians who have examined Terri, but the judge wouldn't listen to them.

 

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