Bioethics Discussion Blog: Must We Remember Terri Schiavo?

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Must We Remember Terri Schiavo?

Here is an excerpt from a recent news item:

Clearwater, FL (LifeNews.com)
March 15, 2006 -- Terri Schiavo's father has joined the president of a nonprofit organization to establish a national holiday to mark the anniversary of her euthanasia death. Robert Schindler and National Urban Policy Action Council president Kevin Fobbs say the goal of the day is to help disabled people and other avoid Terri's fate.
The pair said "Terri's Day" is a "celebration of the 'Culture of Life' as well as celebrating the woman who sacrificed her life for this cause."
The national initiative to annually honor the memory of Terri Schiavo includes gathering one million pledges from all 50 states as well as from international supporters in the hopes of establishing March 31 as a national day of remembrance.


On the other side, Terri Schiavo’s husband Michael has set up TerriPAC, a political acion committee to encourage the defeat of politicians who the committee apparently feels were not respecting the personal and medical privacy of his wife’s illness.

My question to my visitors is whether we really need to remember Terri Schiavo in the form of the Schindler’s annual “Terri’s Day” or in the form of Michael’s political action committee. What occurred regarding the medical management of Terri Schiavo is a legally and ethically accepted routine practice throughout the United States every single day of the year. There was nothing new or unusual except for the publicity. Now after a year from her passing, isn’t it time to let the memories of Terri stay with her family, as they should, and let the public news media memories fade and just rest in peace? ..Maurice.

7 Comments:

At Monday, March 20, 2006 6:57:00 AM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Bernstein, I have mixed feelings about this. I don't usually involve myself in discussions about Terri Shiavo, although I have some pretty strong feelings about what happened there.

No, I don't think that either the remembrance proposed by her father, nor the political action committee should be implemented. We've had quite enough of the issue, and the poor woman should be allowed to "RIP" ... and so should we, each in our own way.

However, our ethics where human life is concern begs common sense, and is so fraught with dichotomy and topsy-turvy priorities that, if things continue along this course, I'm truly frightened when I think of what kind of world my grand-children will see ... let alone what awaits those of us entering the winter of our years now.

I don't advocate keeping people who are brain dead alive artificially ... but the Schiavo woman was not brain dead.

Furthermore, if she was truly as much of a "vegetable" as those on one side of the issue would have us believe, then she also was not in agony over her "quality of life."

Her parents, however, were not ready to let her go. What harm would there have been in letting them take her home and care for her?

From my position, the greatest harm would have been to Mr. Schiavo's wallet, and not from a cost standpoint, either.

Life itself, Dr. Bernstein, has become very very cheap.

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 10:06:00 AM, Anonymous pegadoc said...

"My question to my visitors is whether we really need to remember Terri Schiavo in the form of the Schindler’s annual “Terri’s Day” or in the form of Michael’s political action committee."

My answer would be "no". As you say, cases like hers happen all the time. I do believe it behooves us all to remain thoughtful and sensitive with regard to end of life issues, keeping in mind the best interests of the patient as expressed by them (preferably).

Terri Schiavo was a good reminder to everyone to clarify their own attitudes, opinions and wishes. Let her rest in peace.

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Bob Koepp said...

I think we should have a national day of mourning in remembrance of how both factions of a disputing family allowed themselves to be coopted by political operatives who didn't give a damn about respect, dignity, compassion, you name it -- anything but raw power.

 
At Monday, March 20, 2006 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Bob, of course you are correct about the behavior of the "political operatives" but you know there is another group also we shcould include in our mourning. It was the behavior of the news media that added fuel to the dispute and kept the fires burning. I would wonder what exactly were their motivations for all their intense, unthinking and hour after hour coverage of the conflict. Was it all for points and money? Or was it out of frank ignorance of the law and ethical history of termination of unwanted life support? It would be interesting to know whether the news media has learned anything from critics, including ethicists, about their poor behavior and will take steps to prevent a "Terri Schiavo" story from needlessly inflaming the politicians and public again. ..Maurice.

 
At Thursday, March 23, 2006 3:12:00 PM, Blogger Alyssa said...

Terri Schiavo has become more than a severely disabled woman whose story was inflamed by the media. She is now a symbol of her situation. She puts a face on it. I do not think that she should have her own national holiday or anything of that nature. However, seeing her made more people aware that people just like her are out there.

What about letting Baby Doe's memory rest? And Dax? And Nancy Cruzan? And Karen Ann Quinlan? These people give an identity to ethics. They were real people with real ethics issues.

What is most unfortunate is that I think that the media squandered an excellent opportunity to educate the public on a prevalent and important medical/health/ethical issue.

 
At Thursday, March 23, 2006 9:46:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

"What is most unfortunate is that I think that the media squandered an excellent opportunity to educate the public on a prevalent and important medical/health/ethical issue."
Alyssa, Amen to that! ..Maurice.

 
At Monday, March 27, 2006 8:47:00 AM, Blogger Alyssa said...

Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II's deaths played out within days of one another. Many similar issues of life support came up and I was surprised that more correlations between the two were not drawn.

 

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