Terri Schiavo Case Opened Pandora’s Box for Mistreating Disabled Patients

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Case Opened Pandora’s Box for Mistreating Disabled Patients Email this article
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by Carrie Hutchens
July 5, 2007

LifeNews.com Note: Carrie Hutchens is a former law enforcement officer and a freelance writer who is active in fighting against the death culture movement and the injustices within the judicial and law enforcement systems.

I was reading ABC News’, "Pulling the Plug: Ethicists Debate Ramirez Case," by Dan Childs, ABC News Medical Unit (June 28, 2007) and found it interesting how the defense is still up. No case is ever like Terri Schiavo’s. There is always an alleged difference, with similarities downplayed or outright denied. Might that be because people are starting to realize that an innocent woman was wrongly starved and dehydrated to death, like Jesse Ramirez almost was?

We do have it right in our face that the law does not have true safeguards in place. Had the Ramirez family not stepped in, Jesse Ramirez would most likely not be with us today, let alone sitting up in his bed and interacting with people. It doesn’t even matter if Rebecca Ramirez was basing her decision upon incomplete information the doctors provided. It shouldn’t be that easy to make a mistake. After all, this type of mistake is beyond serious — not an Oops! It is forever and someone is dead!

There are several issues at hand.

Childs writes, "The injuries Ramirez sustained in his accident were traumatic in nature, meaning that the shock of impact likely ripped apart some of the fragile connections in his brain, leading to his coma. "These injuries, on occasion, can heal to a certain extent, allowing the patient to recover functionality. This is far different from the damage caused by anoxia, in which a lack of oxygen to the brain causes irreparable brain damage. Those who suffer this type of damage, including Schiavo, have a much slimmer chance of ever regaining consciousness. "

Even if it is true that Terri Schiavo had a slimmer chance in comparison to that of Ramirez, do we truly know the degree? How can we know to what degree she could have recovered if she had been afforded the therapy that so many "think" she had? How do we know to what degree Terri was affected by the isolation and lack of stimulation? (The latter alone proven to be detrimental on the well-being of humans.) We simply can’t know. Nor do we know just how conscious and alert Terri actually was in spite of all this, since tests were denied and anyone who might suggest she was not PVS was then closed out with attempts being made to discredit their opinion.

Similar is that Terri and Jesse are human beings. Each had a spouse that made the decision to place them in a hospice. Each were ordered to be starved and dehydrated to death by the spouse. Each had family and friends that said they were responsive.

The difference is that Jesse had Judge Katz and Terri had Judge Greer.

In Terri Schiavo’s case, the majority of people were not aware of all the facts nor the possibility that a conscious human being could be starved and dehydrated to death by a spouse, guardian, court, hospital or simply anyone. Even if one does not want to believe that Terri was conscious, Andrea Clark from Texas cannot be forgotten. She was indeed conscious, but the doctor and hospital felt it was within their rights to deem her futile and pull the plug. Perhaps if her case had been first, Terri would have had a chance.

The media frequently reported that Terri was brain dead, so that is what the majority of people believed, though it was absolutely not true.

The media frequently reported that Terri was on life support as though machines were keeping a dead body alive. She was merely on a feeding tube.

In Terri’s case, the truth often didn’t matter. Whatever the media reported must be the gospel. As a result, the Schindlers were often made to look like religious fanatics that wanted to keep their daughter’s body alive at all costs. They couldn’t possibly be seeing any response because brain death makes that impossible. So, they were either lying or misreading so-called "reflexes". But… what might the majority of people thought, had they known the truth?

Childs’ article says, "This guy was not hopeless and in a persistent vegetative state by any means," says Dr. Steven Miles, professor of internal medicine and bioethics at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics."

Would we have known that if the family hadn’t intervened and Judge Katz hadn’t agreed with them?

If Terri Schiavo’s care decisions had been taken out of Michael Schiavo’s hands, might we have likewise discovered she was not in a persistent vegetative state?

Also in the article was, "This is by no means a miracle of any kind," Miles says. "Traumatic comas are notorious for late wake-ups."

I agree! With the medical and legal trends as they are, the miracle was that Jesse was allowed a chance to live and recover.

Jesse Ramirez’s family didn’t agree with his wife’s decision and sought to have his feeding tube replaced. Judge Katz granted the request, appointed a guardian and set up a hearing. This saved Jesse’s life! Too bad Katz wasn’t also the Schiavo judge. Perhaps the outcome would have been much different. Nevertheless, when did it become acceptable to starve and dehydrate people to death? How can anyone suggest that is a humane thing to do only to non-criminal humans? There is no logic.

The Schiavo and Ramirez cases are very similar in that they show us just how careless we have become with the lives of those who have been injured or fall ill.

The Terri Schiavo case was a wake up call!

Though the snooze button appears to have been hit, with people still under false beliefs that molded their opinions, the Ramirez case is a loud and clear alarm going off! A man with a chance to recover was nearly murdered by a society and its trend to be too ready to give up and pull the plug on others. What does that say about us as a society?

Maybe it is time to do some serious soul searching, while we still have souls to search!