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February 22, 2005

Comments

KAP

So very sad!

We'll keep moving the prayers forward and upward! Onward Christian soldiers....

ajb

"We urge people to refrain from excessive rhetoric and misguided zeal, against which Pope Pius XI cautioned"

. . .

"So, Terri's life is still hanging in the balance, and at this point, barring something stopping him, Michael will follow through on his murderous intent tomorrow afternoon."

Indeed.

Anonymous

I'm kind of afraid to say this, so I'm making a cowardly anonymous post, but I still can't quite understand the distinction between artificial respiration (traditionally considered morally acceptable to end) and artificial feeding (regarded as morally unacceptable to end by nearly every Catholic thinker and blogger I respect, although apparently not by the Florida bishops.) Since both my instinct and my intellect tell me that what is happening to Schiavo is an outrage, I'm starting to incline to the view that maybe cutting off air is also wrong, but that would make mortal sinners, and presumably denizens of hell, out of a lot of good people who chose not to be rescuscitated.

ann

Amy - as a result of your post (I think) from theseventhage.com I e-mailed Cardinal Keeler at the US Conf. of Cath. Bishops thus:

"Your Eminence: As head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, many Catholics have been waiting to hear an outcry from our Bishops regarding the case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who is brain-damaged, but otherwise in good health and not at all terminally ill. Due to court rulings and the desire of her husband who has been co-habiting with another woman for 10 years and has two children by her, Terri Schiavo will most likely have all nutrition and water withheld from her until she dies. Her parents and siblings have petitioned to no avail to release Mr. Schiavo from responsibilty for her care. Mrs. Schiavo likely will face a slow death from starvation and dehydration within the next few weeks, if not sooner. This situation has implications for all of us if the court should permit Terri Schiavo's death at the hands of her husband. Please tell me why the Bishops have stayed away from this years-long controversy. I read the following on the internet and want to know if it is true and if so why. Please read below. I would very much appreciate a response. Sincerely, Ann Palladino, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444"


from theseventhage.com

February 16, 2005
Terri Schiavo Abandoned by U.S. Bishops
I had the opportunity to attend a lecture last night by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, the official pro-life spokesperson for the U.S. Catholic Bishops.

The spiritual director for the Schindler family was in attendance, and after the lecture, he asked Ruse what the U.S. Bishops were doing to stand up for Teri Schiavo. After some quips about being video taped, and a prolonged silence, Ruse revealed that she had been specifically instructed that the Schiavo case is considered a strictly local matter, and she is not to speak to it at all. Keep in mind this is the national pro-life spokesperson for the U.S. Bishops.

Never mind the fact that the Schiavo case is in the national spotlight, with news outlets all over the country running the story. Never mind the fact that there are commentaries in the Washington Times, articles in the New York Times, opinions in the Los Angeles Times. This is the story of our times, an incredible opportunity to publicly affirm the value of all human life, and educate the faithful on end of life issues, and the U.S. Bishops are remaining silient, not accidentally, but willfully.

One would hope that the abuse scandal had taught the bishops something, but it seems it is business as usual at the UCCB. Needless to say, such actions seriously undermine the credibility of the bishops on the life issues as a whole."

It was answered by Jonathan Dalin from the Archdiocese of Phila.:
"Dear Ms. Palladino,

The Florida Catholic Conference (FCC) and the Bishops of Florida
have issued several statements petitioning Florida politician and judges
respect the dignity of the life of Mrs. Schiavo. These petitions outline
the Catholic teachings concerning nutrition and hydration. If you wish
to read these statements please review the home page of the FCC website
at www.flacathconf.org.
I am unaware, at the present time, if Bishop William S. Skylstad,
Chairman of the USCCB, is issuing a possible statement coming from the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) so I am unable to
address the attached article.
Please know that I will forward your e-mail to the Cardinal's
Office. If you should have any further inquiries please do not hesitate
to contact me at 215-587-3703.
Let us earnestly pray that the politicians and judges of Florida
see the person of Christ in Mrs. Schiavo and not elect to enact the
false mercy of euthanasia.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Dalin
Administrator
Department for Pro-Life Activities
Archdiocese of Philadelphia"

I replied:

"Dear Mr. Dalin: Thank you for responding to my e-mail. The Schiavo situation is so unjust from so many standpoints that I cannot understand why more people whose voices might have influence have not informed themselves enough to understand the implications for all US citizens if Mrs. Schiavo is put to death. It also concerns me that by not speaking out about the Schiavo case, the Bishops seem to condone it with their (perceived) silence. I know that severely brain-injured patients are allowed to die every day, but this situation is vastly different. There are so many complicated life issues today. Somehow, our Bishops need a way to explain them and the Church's teaching in as simple a way as possible and find a way to broadcast that information as widely as possible. Most people don't even know who Terri Schiavo is - but their lives could be affected if her husband has the court's permission to carry out her death. This is not really a case of euthansia - it appears to be court-ordered murder. She is not suffering, she is healthy, but unfortunately she is inconvenient to her husband (her legal guardian) despite the fact that her mother and father are willing to be responsible for her care. Again, thanks for responding. Sincerely, Ann Palladino"

I am curious to see if I get any further response from the USCCB.....

ann

Sorry to be so long in my previous post. I feel so frustrated with our Bishops! Regarding the emergency stay until 5pm Wednesday: I guess Judge Greer and Michael Schiavo can wait one more day...they've waited so long already....God help us all!

Yurodivi

Anonymous,

if you have ever had a baby, you know the difference. You don't usually have to make a baby breathe, but they can't feed themselves. Is it therefore okay to leave them to starve, since they depend on artificial nutrition for their survival? If we apply that standard, babies are just so many useless eaters, just like Terri.

al

I think Anonomous's conundrum is a little more challenging then you allow, Yurodivi.

For example, Amy's post said "This ideally would be a family decision, rooted in what desires the patient had previously expressed"

Except what if the patient had previous expressed a desire that ventilation or nutrition and hydration be " withdrawn to cause her death"? Would that still be wrong?

I think so, but then the character of the act hinges apon the intent of the decider--to end the life. Not on the treatment, or the consensuality of the decision.

Anonymous

Yurodivi:
Really good point. That really helped to clarify the situation for me, and I can't believe I didn't think of it before.

Anonymous

Al: The line you cite is actually a paraphase of what the bishops said.

Rick

the U.S. Bishops are remaining silient, not accidentally, but willfully.

They are remaining silent because Catholic teaching says it is up to the patient or his or her lawful proxy to decide when ANH becomes too burdensome.

From Ethical and Religious Directives
for Catholic Health Care Services
:

"A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.40 [Emphasis mine]

Church teaching leaves it to the judgement of the patient to determine when ANH becomes too burdensome...just as it leaves to the judgment of spouses to determine when just reasons obtain for seeking to avoid conception through NFP.

The bishops are not shirking their duty by refusing to make such judgements of conscience.

They are fulfilling it.

ajb

There is a saying in the legal field that "bad facts make for bad law." If one were to conjure up a hypothetical fact pattern to test Catholic teaching on this topic, the Schiavo case would be it. Obviously it's much more tragic because it's not hypothetical.

I don't think you can fault the Bishops or the Magisterium generally for doing nothing more than re-stating already established Catholic teaching on the matter.

This is truly a tragic case, and dismissing the husband's position as wanting to "put her to death" or "court-ordered murder" really don't foster discussion.

chris K

How come the only bishops who have spoken out loud, standing personally for Terri, are OUTSIDE of Florida? Are the Florida priests still under order NOT to demonstrate or speak out for Terri by Bishop Lynch?

I have e-mailed this conference, each bishop individually in Florida and C. Keeler (head of pro life committee for bishops I believe!). Have heard nothing. I pointed out to the Florida conference that euthanasia is being widely used and permitted by the courts in Florida, under their watch. Florida will then become another beginning euthanasia push for the entire country. Shame!

amy

There are situations - numerous - in which a dying person's body gradually begins to shut down, they take less and less food, and may even reject it. In a case like that, it is my understanding that it is not required to commence vigorous artifical nutrition and hydration - the rejection is part of the dying process, and is, if you will, natural.

That is not what's happening here, obviously, because Terri is not in the process of dying.

The situations are complicated, but the distinctions are important to make.

And Rick, I can see your point - bishops don't normally make it a habit to comment on individual family situations. And I am not sure what they "should" say beyond what they have.

However, this is a very high-profile case dealing with end-of-life ethics, and one which a lot of people are watching and learning from. What the bishops have said so far is not bad nor untrue, but I just keep wondering if there is more instruction to be done re/the case, knowing that all eyes are on it, and figuring how to deal with their own situations in light of it.

al

Here's an additional clarification on what would be germane to determining "proportionate" treatment: "
However, a different concept of "quality of life" is now spreading,
"reductive and selective," the Holy Father warned.

This concept consists in "the capacity to enjoy and experience pleasure, or
in the capacity of self-awareness and of participation in social life,"
continued the Pope.

This mentality "denies all quality of life to human beings who are not yet
capable or who are no longer capable of understanding and loving, or those
who are no longer able to enjoy life as sensation or relationship," he said.

After pointing out that the concept of "health" has suffered a similar
diversion, the Pope focused on a paradox of contemporary societies."

amy

I also am looking at this from the standpoint of pastoral care. I have not followed this terribly closely in recent months, but it seems to me that in terms of local Church community, the Schindlers are alone - these are parents who are in terrible pain, who want to do nothing more than care for their daughter, they're being prevented from doing so, and I am wondering what the local Church in Tampa-St. Pete is doing in relation to them?

chris K

Another place to contact is Hospice. I wrote them the following e-mail: (the quoted portion is from their website explaining their philosophy of care, qualifications for care, etc.)


"We are a qualified member of the Combined Federal Campaign, the federal government's workplace fundraising appeal. We are listed under the Health and Medical Research Charities of America federation."

Isn't this grounds for federal investigation if a hospice facility is not governing itself according to your stated regulations? You also receive Medicare and Medicaid payments.

"What is Hospice?

"Hospice is a special concept of care designed to provide comfort and support to patients and their families when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to cure-oriented treatments."

Terri has no life limiting illness that has not in some way responded to even the minimum of rehab offered.


"Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. Hospice staff and volunteers offer a specialized knowledge of medical care, including pain management."

If your employees, volunteers et al, obey the judge, Hospice will definitely act to hasten Terri's death for no cause.


"The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of a patient's last days by offering comfort and dignity."

Instead they have gone along with husband's forced harassment of Terri, taking all dignity away from her person, not even giving basic dental care.


"Hospice addresses all symptoms of a disease, with a special emphasis on controlling a patient's pain and discomfort."

Again, Terri has no disease. Why is she in Hospice care.....for years???

Neither have they reported to proper authorities the painful responses of Terri noted by nurses after the husband's visits.

In this case, how can you address symptoms when you allow official nursing charts to be tampered with by the husband?


"Hospice deals with the emotional, social and spiritual impact of the disease on the patient and the patient's family and friends."

They have not reported effects of denying the spiritual comfort of Terri's priest. Where is the protest from Hospice?


"Hospice offers a variety of bereavement and counseling services to families before and after a patient's death."

What have they done to offer comfort to the family - firing a nurse who wishes to report abuse of Terri to police?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"A7: Hospice care is a covered benefit under Medicare for patients with a prognosis of 6 MONTHS OR LESS. Medicaid covers hospice services in 41 states. Many private health insurance policies and HMO's offer hospice coverage and benefits. Hospice services are covered under TRICARE. Frequently, hospice expenses are less than conventional care expenses during the last six months of life."

6 months or less? Terri has a prognosis of 50 years with simple food and water. Hospice should never have accepted Terri. How was this done? Is it true that Attorney Felos was on the board of directors of this Hospice at time of admitting and that many who are caring for Terri had worked for him? Big conflict of interest here.

"PHYSICIAN ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA
Q14: What is the hospice stance on PAS and euthanasia?

A14: Hospice neither prolongs life nor hastens death. To read Jack D. Gordon's article, "Assisted Suicide: Hospice Care as a Merciful Alternative,""

In Terri's case Hospice is breaking all its rules in hastening her death. As Fr. Pavone has stated: they are killing Terri specifically because she won't die!

Hospice, you have a reputation of caring from the heart. You must take a stance against this brutal and intentional killing of Terri Schiavo or your facilities will appear to have no heart nor discipline nor order.


ajb

Can anyone provide any insight into what constitutes "too burdensome" under the Church's teaching, or an example of when the "burdens" outweigh the "benefits"?

It was my understanding that once a person comes into a situation of being maintained on externally provided fluids and nutrition, those cannot be discontinued for any reason.

These questions, and the statement that "what is too burdensome for one person may not be for another" suggest that the Church's position is not "keep someone 'alive' at any cost".

Rick

amy,

I don't think Catholic teaching, at least currently, requires death to be imminent to justify withholding ANH. Some Catholic moralists might take this view, but I don't believe this is official Church teaching.

If Terri had left a written advance directive specifiying that she would find permanent ANH to be psychologically burdensome, and directing it to be withdrawn upon a diagnosis of pvs...could Catholic hospitals follow that directive?

Under current guidelines, I believe the answer is "yes."

Rick

Can anyone provide any insight into what constitutes "too burdensome" under the Church's teaching, or an example of when the "burdens" outweigh the "benefits"?

The USCCB's "Questions about Medically Assisted
Nutrition and Hydration"
discusses this at length.

Excerpt:

4. What are the burdens of medically assisted nutrition and hydration?

Our tradition does not demand heroic measures in fulfilling the obligation to sustain life. A person may legitimately refuse even procedures that effectively prolong life, if he or she believes they would impose excessively grave burdens on himself or herself, or on his or her family and community. Catholic theologians have traditionally viewed medical treatment as excessively burdensome if it is "too painful, too damaging to the patient's bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too restrictive of the patient's liberty and preferred activities, too suppressive of the patient's mental life, or too expensive."[20]

al

If a person had to be continuously artificially rescuscitated simply to feed and give the something to drink, that would seem to be excessive.

Short of that, the danger is that you are removing something that works, and is palliative, because something else (chemotherapy, surgery) is not working.

John Hetman

Those Florida bishops sure don't mince words! What courageous men, following the ancient virtue of fortitude. I assume that when they finally meet the Lord, he will only have to point...down. Why do I have the feeling that Christ doesn't read the fine print?

ajb

Rick, thanks for that citation. But under current Catholic teaching is there not a distinction between an advanced directive which instructs that such interventions not be initiated and one that expressed a desire for them to be discontinued?

ajb

John,
What exactly have the Bishops in Florida done to condemn themselves to Hell? Isn't that a bit extreme?

Rick

But under current Catholic teaching is there not a distinction between an advanced directive which instructs that such interventions not be initiated and one that expressed a desire for them to be discontinued?

Not to my knowledge. I'm not an expert here, but I don't think there is any moral difference between refusing a procedure and discontinuing a procedure. If the first is licit the second is too.

al

Rick,
I was referring to your claim that someone could provide an advanced directive to withdraw artificial food and hydration based on psychological burden(??!?!)

This would seem and untenable assertion on all counts

1) As ajp points out, that advanced directives could be given to withdraw thus and such a treatment.

2) The nutrition and hydration can be withdrawn in any circumstance other than in extremis.

3) That psychological burdensome can be estimated regarding a person who is not able to communicate that burden. Clearly in such a case the burden is not to the person in that condition, but to the person contemplating being in that condition, which is not a licit criterion, as the Holy Father indicates in his comments on "Quality of Life" quoted above.

Chris-2-4

Let's see.
Woman suffers Brain damage.
Husband wants to "pull the plug".
Parents want to continue feeding her.
Courts weigh in on one side.
Legislature/Governor weigh in on another side

What should we do next?

I know! How about another rousing chorus of "Let's all blame the bishops for not doing enough". EVEN THE ONES OUTSIDE OF FLORIDA! That always gets people excited.

"Boy that John Paul II, I don't know why he doesn't do anything about it. If he really cared he'd come down to Florida and stand guard by her bedside. But he doesn't care."

ajb

I think al is right about the current teaching. We can, ex ante, refuse medical intervention that might prevent immediate death but leave us in a pvs, but once in that state, we cannot, ex post, get out of it.

Although I don't think one has to be a death-monger to suggest that if someone is left in a permanent state of unconsciousness, pvs, with no reasonable hope of regaining consciousness (let alone recovery) and is only technically "alive" because of the artificial administration of nutrition and hydration, that the continued administration of such may actually interfere with their "natural end".

This is quite different than a baby who has to be fed until they can feed themselves. In fact, any mother will tell you that the baby isn't just the passive recipient of nutrition, they somehow "know" to latch on and feed.

Just to be clear, I'm not rejecting the Church's teaching. Just stating that it's one of those "hard teachings" and not as clear cut as those who use the rhetoric of "court-ordered murder" would suggest.

Chris Sullivan

Rick,

Giving food and water, even if by a feeding tube, do not amount to a "medical procedure", but to the basic requirements of sustaining any and every human life. And to do so is a direct commandment and one of those actions which seperates the "sheep" from the "goats" Matthew 25:31-46 :-

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'

Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'

He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

As to the Florida Bishops statement, the Catholic position is entirely clear, as stated in :-

4. Need for Ethical Decision-making

It is also important to note that such health care surrogates and medical directions can never “trump” or override appropriate moral considerations. In this regard, Catholic teaching notes that the proxy may not deliberately cause a patient’s death or refuse ordinary and normal treatment, even if he or she believes a patient would have made such a decision.

As feeding the sick is ordinary and normal treatment then it's perfectly clear the bishops are saying to stop feeding her would be gravely morally wrong, even if it could be proved that Terri wanted to be starved to death.

It seems to me that bishops are trying to establish a principle which does not rest on the medical arguments of Terri's case. Although how I hope and pray they would do so with greater clarity and less hedging !

God Bless

RP Burke

It is profoundly unfair to try to blame Bishop Lynch in particular or the bishops in Florida in general on this.

They have, in episcopal style, jumped up and down and stamped their feet in saying that her husband is wrong, wrong, wrong. As well they should have. And it hasn't mattered one bit to the outcome. Nor would a letter from the USCCB, nor even from the pope, just like most of the death-penalty cases where the pope objects and the governors pull the switch anyway.

What has brought us to this point is a legal issue, not a moral issue. And no bishop, no parish is a party to the legal case.

This whole situation, as the old Baltimore Catechism used to say, cries out to heaven for vengeance. But, short of hog-tying the husband and feeding her themselves, what else could the bishops do?

WRY

amy,
Isn't your google request an invitation to gratuitous bishop-bashing?
Change the search: Instead of google *news*, search under the same terms that you specified. One of the very first documents that appears is the statement by the Florida Conference of Bishops.

WRY

I meant, do a general search. Sorry.

John Hetman

From Revelations, 3:


"15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth."

Where or where are all the anti-death penalty people?

Rick

Chris,

As feeding the sick is ordinary and normal treatment then it's perfectly clear the bishops are saying to stop feeding her would be gravely morally wrong, even if it could be proved that Terri wanted to be starved to death.

The bishops are not saying that stopping ANH to Terri is certainly wrong. The Florida bishops endorsed the statement of Bishop Lynch, which reads in part

If Terri’s feeding tube is removed, it will undoubtedly be followed by her death. If it were to be removed because the nutrition which she receives from it is of no use to her, or because it is unreasonably burdensome for her and her family or her caregivers, it could be seen as permissible.

Refusing or withdrawing ANH because it is "unreasonably burdensome" can be permissible. Refusing or withdrawing it to intentionally cause death is gravely evil.

lourdes

As an elder law attorney who is also pro-life, I am appalled at the advance directives people bring into my office. My concern is not so much with the clients, but with the attorneys who prepare these documents. There is stock language used for these advance directives and clients very rarely understand the mplications. The language generally comes from the Hemlock society or some other right to die group and focuses on ending life rather than treating a sick person with dignity. I certainly do not believe that I can impose any point of view on my clients, but as an attorney I want them to understand the decisions they are making and the documents they are signing. In my experience very few people know the choices they are making in advance directives. Until there is more done to educate the public I would rather see less people sign advance directives. If Terri had signed a document she would be dead now.

Chris Sullivan

Rick,

If it were to be removed because the nutrition which she receives from it is of no use to her, or because it is unreasonably burdensome for her and her family or her caregivers, it could be seen as permissible.

The nutrition Terri receives from the feeding tube is of use to her, as it is what has sustained her life for many years now.

It is clearly not unreasonably burdensome for her and her family or her caregivers because it causes no burden on Terri and her parents and caregivers are able and willing to provide it and do not consider it unreasonably burdensome.

Bishop Lynch clearly indicates that Terri's feeding tube does not meet the criteria of being a burden :-

Our Catholic Church has traditionally viewed medical treatment as excessively burdensome if it is “too painful, too damaging to the patient’s bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too suppressive of the patient’s mental life, or too expensive.” [cf. “Life, Death and Treatment of Dying Patients: Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Florida, 1989]

Terri's feeding tube meets none of these criteria.

Bishop Lynch states :-

Our Catholic teaching is also clear that “nourishment or hydration may be withheld or withdrawn where that treatment itself is causing harm to the patient or is useless because the patient’s death is imminent, as long as the patient is made comfortable. In general, the terms ‘death is imminent’ and ‘terminally ill’ imply that a physician can predict that the patient will die of the fatal pathology within a few days or weeks, regardless of what life prolonging methods are utilized.” [Statement of Florida bishops cited above]

This criteria is not met because the feeding tube is not causing any harm to Terri and her death is certainly not imminent (unless nutrition is discontinued).

Bishop Lynch sums up :-

In these most difficult cases, our Church teaching is that there should be a presumption in favor of providing medically assisted nutrition and hydration to all patients as long as it is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

Bishop Lynch's position is perfectly clear to me. He's against removing the feeding tube.

God Bless

al

Rick,
As the Holy Father's statement indicates, feeding and giving water is "morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering."

If food is what is keeping Terri from her death, you can't remove it, no matter how you parse "unnecessarily burdensome."


Susan Peterson

I think a distinction needs to be drawn between a case like Terry Schiavo's and that of a very old person whose body is shutting down so that they no longer want to eat or drink. The latter is part of the natural process of dying and it is artificial to put in a feeding tube and prolong this. And it does become an unreasonable burden. While it may be possible to avoid skin breakdown in an otherwise healthy young person by proper turning and positioning, it is almost impossible to do so with a frail elderly person. I won't say categorically impossible, but in almost all real life situations impossible. Tube feeding usually causes diarrhea which causes skin breakdown in the groin area. Then the person urinates on the abraded skin which is painful. If they have a catheter to avoid this, they are subject to urinary tract infections and need repeated courses of antibiotics, which encourage the growth of yeasts which make the skin breakdown in the groin area worse. Since the sphincter muscles between the stomach and the esophagus aren't as strong, there is often reflux of tube feedings which are aspirated, causing repeated episodes of pneumonia, which also require further hospitalizations for IV antibiotics. During the course of these hospitalizations people pick up typical hospital pathogens, especially "C-diff" (Clostridium difficile) which causes an especially nasty mucousy loose stool, which increases the skin breakdown.... This course is what can be expected if you start tube feeding on an old person who has stopped eating in the final stages of Alzheimer's Disease.

It is also what can be expected if you start tube feedings on a 90 year old who has had a massive stroke and can no longer eat, talk, or move much. It will take longer because this person may have been more mobile and generally healthier up until the stroke, but it will happen.

As a nurse who took care of many many of these people I am so afraid that the reaction against the Schiavo case will make people feel that to be prolife and do the moral thing, they have to insist on tube feeding for their dying elderly parents, and in so doing, cause a degree of suffering which is beyond the normal suffering of death in old age.
As a nurses aide I also took care of a young man in an "alert coma" maybe not so different from Terry, off and on over a period of two years. He had had decubitus ulcers on his hips, but they had been healed. With two hour turning further skin breakdown could be prevented. Sometimes keeping him clean was difficult, but we did it. Although it was supposed to be impossible with the condition of his brain the way it was, I along with other nurses aides swore he "helped" when when we put a shirt onto his arms. Some nurse's aides swore he had tears in his eyes when his daughter came to visit him...I can't personally attest to that. I know that for those who took care of him he had a personality and evoked love and I would never say his life had no meaning. He never took that downward medical spiral I described as happening to elderly people on tube feeding.

That is why I think one can only articulate general principles here. And I don't think there should be a general principle that one must always provide artificial nutrition and hydration if a person can't or won't eat by themselves, no matter what their age or condition. There is a point at which having Jevity forced into one's stomach at 100 cc an hour by a feeding pump, IS as unnatural and extraordinary as having air forced into one's lungs by a respirator.
Susan Peterson RN

Larry Tierney

RPB

Lynch gave orders to the priests and nuns assigned to Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, to stay away from the room and the area where Terri was being treated. Instead of supporting and giving comfort to the family, they were treated like lepers. Having witnessed this first hand it is difficult to be impressed with his leadership, especially with his own questionable behaviour.

Terri was a short term patient on two occasions during 2003 on Whitt 6.

Another view of Bishop Lynch:

From CNW-Off The Record-Diogenes


Our Fabulous Florida Bishops, Snapshot #5
In March of 2002, by a truly astonishing coincidence, Bishop Robert "We almost have a hang-up with sex" Lynch of St. Petersburg admitted to "crossing boundaries" by means of inappropriate demonstrations of affection for his Director of Communications:


Urbanski alleged that the bishop: rubbed down Urbanski's legs and upper body after he had competed in a triathlon, booked only one hotel room for the two of them when they traveled together on a couple of occasions, frequently invited Urbanski to his house after work to swim in his pool, and took pictures of Urbanski in his Speedo bathing suit.
"The bishop felt he was close enough to Bill and his family that he could take off his collar and just be Bob," said Lynch's attorney. Urbanski got a $100,000 pay-off.


"Do I wish I didn't feel his biceps? Yes," Lynch said. "Do I understand the confusion? Of course. But I know what I did do, and what I didn't do. It's in the eye of the beholder."
We love our bishops.

lourdes

I completely agree with Susan that apart from dealing with the facts of the Schiavo case it is difficult to speak in other than general terms. That is precisely what makes it so difficult to execute an advance directive. How can you anticipate what your particular situation may be in the future? New York has an excellent system of "health care proxy" where you designate one person to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. You designate a person you trust and who will honor your moral and religious convictions. It is almost impossible to predict the future and clearly describe which treatment you would want in which situation. The problem I see with many clients is that they get too specific with their wishes (e.g. "if I have a terminal condition for which there is no known cure I do not wish to receive antibiotics, artificial nutrition, etc., etc. ) and their family's hands are tied to pursue any different kind of care or treatment which may be warranted at the time, but was unforeseen at the time the advance directive was executed.

Chris Sullivan

Susan Peterson,

I think the distinction between Terri's case and the cases of elderly patients you cite is both clear and marked.

I think this is why the bishops are taking special care to carefully and accurately state the teaching, so that misunderstanding won't arise and people be mislead that burdensome intervention is required.

However, as Terri's case clearly does not call for discontinuing feeding, I think the bishops could do better by making a clear statement against removing her tube.

There are times when one has to speak up bluntly, and this is one of them.

God Bless

James Kabala

Susie (not Susan Peterson): I can't imagine how denying water to a person who speifically asked for it could ever be justified. I don't think that that is the sort of situation Susan Peterson was trying to describe.

ajb

Susie:

Maybe, just maybe, the husband truly believes, based on conversations with his wife, that she would not want to be kept in this state indefinitely.

Neither I, nor anyone else, can definitively speak to motives, but family law disputes of all nature eventually turn ugly with allegations of abuse and so forth.

Chris Sullivan

ajb,

Even if Terri's husband did genuinely believe this, the Florida Bishops statement is quite clear that :-

Catholic teaching notes that the proxy may not deliberately cause a patient’s death or refuse ordinary and normal treatment, even if he or she believes a patient would have made such a decision.

God Bless

al

AJP,
"Maybe, just maybe, the husband truly believes, based on conversations with his wife, that she would not want to be kept in this state indefinitely."

Then her wishes cannot be honored. This is exactly the point. If someone can be "kept" in a state "indefinitely" then they are not in extremis, and thus cannot be killed by the withdrawal of food.

"I think a distinction needs to be drawn between a case like Terry Schiavo's and that of a very old person whose body is shutting down so that they no longer want to eat or drink."

This seems pretty much self evident. But to extrapolate from this person, for whom death is imminent as the Holy Father observes, and someone construed as functionally similar (ie. much care is required) is the error.

Also to the point about not calling this murder, go to the Blog Amy linked, and watch the video of Terri laughing.

It's murder. Preventing her "husband" from killing her is preventing murder.

Susan F. Peterson

One elderly woman we had stopped feeding and hydrating at her family's request...she was nonverbal and unable to turn herself in bed or move voluntarily much at all, but still had periods of alertness, looked at me with what seemed like furious anger when I took care of her. She wasn't clearly terminal or in severe pain. She didn't seem ready to go. Someone made a referral to the ethics committee, who came around and interviewed all the nurses. I told them I thought the woman was furious with us, acknowledging that this was based only on the look in her eyes. Apparently several other nurses told them the same thing. They relayed these comments to the family, who were genuinely chagrined; they thought they were doing the right thing, that no one would want to be in this woman's position. We started hydrating, and then feeding her again. AND at least one person from the family made a point of spending more time with her.

However, we had another patient who had been our patient through a series of strokes, fought hard, worked at her rehab, regained function, and then had another stroke, again and again. She clearly expressed to us nurses as well as to her family at what point it would not be worth it to her to go on. When she was clearly there and no longer able to move, talk, eat or drink, when she did not seem to have much in the way of awareness, and her labs were going bad, I got the doctor to talk to her family. I remember we hydrated her for three days to see if fixing her electrolytes would improve her level of consciousness. I started that IV, and when the decision was made to stop hydration, I locked it off. It took this woman 10 days to die. I admit, when I flushed her IV lock with 3 cc of saline to keep in patent..(just in case of I don't know what) I experienced a desire to sneak her more fluids. But she was not obviously uncomfortable. She had many children and they were all involved in her care; someone was with her every minute; the family turned and washed her, moisturized her lips, stroked her and sung to her and told her they loved her, all through those ten days.
Measuring this against what I had seen of tube fed elderly stroke victims, as described in my previous post, I thought that this is what I would choose for myself in these circumstances.

We wouldn't have refused someone who asked for water. However sometimes people who cannot swallow without aspirating don't understand this and do ask to drink even while they are being hydrated;in that case we carefully wet their mouths without letting anything go down the wrong way.
Susan Peterson

James Freeman

RP Burke writes:

This whole situation, as the old Baltimore Catechism used to say, cries out to heaven for vengeance. But, short of hog-tying the husband and feeding her themselves, what else could the bishops do?

Actually, that would be a start. Seriously.

IF they were bishops in the mold of, say, St. Nicolaus. Who, to my knowledge, never had a thing for male triathletes.


chris K

Beyond the bishops' very explicit statements of what is right and what is wrong according to Church teachings, you'd think it just might occur to them that action is what is needed since, in this case in particular, the corrupt court has turned down all types of reasonable evidence if it appears to favor Terri. Now then....does the denial by the husband of Terri's regular priest (apparently the only priest with the courage to serve a sister - and he's up in age I believe) as well as the Church's most important sacrament at the time of one's death mean nothing to them? Is there no outrage about this even if there is not outrage about the recorded abuse and neglect? No priests permitted to minister to family? These fellows REALLY need a course in "What would Jesus do". What a deplorable face of Jesus they present to the public.

Again, why is it only a few bishops OUTSIDE of Florida who have spoken out? Aren't they all serving the same God of Justice and Mercy?

amy

Whoever it was who mentioned that yes, Bishop Lynch has made a statement, you are correct - and it's linked in my post, via the Bishops' statement. The last time Bishop Lynch said anything was a year and a half ago.

My point is this, as it often is: Teachable moment, teachable moment, teachable moment. (besides, of course, Terri's life, Terri's life, Terri's life). Bishops are, first of all, teachers. This is high-profile. This case is a prism through which people are hearing about the Church's teaching on end-of-life care. The Church's teaching has even been brought in as evidence. It's a prism through which Catholics are thinking about the ethics of their own decisions.

So, as difficult as it is, particularly regarding the contentious nature of the case, it is just too bad that Bishop Lynch can't figure out anything to say right now - not 18 months ago, but right now in a way that would help people make sense of it - the reason it's instructive to search news sources is that, well, it's the news. It tells us what's being put in the media about this case and commentary about it. Our bishop in this diocese gets op-eds in the paper every time the footlights go on in a theater at Notre Dame. Why couldn't Lynch? Even if it says the same thing that the FCC statement says - to get it out there so people can see what the Church is saying about this (and if you News Google the 2/15 Florida Catholic Conference statement, you'll find it...nowhere, either. So much for PR. So much for getting the view of the Church out there.)

Who's blaming the bishops for the basic situation? Not me, that's for sure. However, this issue of artificial means, nutrition, hydration, etc. is something that every one of us has or will face, and about which Catholic ethics has much to say, even as the issues are so complex and grow more so every day.

But just as, say, the Iraq war was, among other things, an opportunity for us to highlight and think about Church teaching on war, or an execution is, for the bishops of Florida, a chance to highlight the Church's teaching on "culture of life" issues (an opportunity which they take every time there's an execution in Florida), so the case of Terri Schiavo is a teachable moment - a painful, contentious one, to be sure. But the silence of Bishop Lynch is, in my mind, an abdication of responsibility to help the faithful work through the issues raised in this very public case, and to help them understand what's at stake.

Chris-2-4

Amy: This is high-profile. This case is a prism through which people are hearing about the Church's teaching on end-of-life care. The Church's teaching has even been brought in as evidence. It's a prism through which Catholics are thinking about the ethics of their own decisions.

The fact is, you're right. It is high-profile and this quote demonstrates that the "teachable moment" has not gone unaddressed. The Bishops have been clear. The lecture has been given. It's "in evidence" in the court proceedings. People ARE talking about it. It is not a failure to get the message out, it is a failure by some to follow the teaching. But that is not the fault of the bishops. The outrage by all of us Pro-lifers is demonstrable proof that the teaching is clear. Does anyone really believe that the failure to follow the church's teaching in this case has anything to do with ignorance of it?

Susie

I had different views in the abstract.

But I was there. I had a client, 92 years old, who had repeatedly expressed a horror for being incapacitated, for being in a nursing home. This was a primary value for this individual.

Then she had a major stroke. At first we thought she'd never regain consciousness. But it wasn't to be that simple.

She woke up, and although she couldn't speak, she could write notes on a pad. And what she said was "water, water, glasses, full glasses of water" over and over.

But she couldn't swallow, so she would have had to be hydrated by IV. And her grandchildren, who were in charge of course, decided to deny her that. The hospital, which was anxious for financial reasons to get rid of her, pushed this solution.

She lived for almost a week. At the end they gave her enough morphine to make her unconscious, and so she died.

And I went home and radically altered my Directive for Health Care. The bishops are right. Denying food and water to anyone is murder.

Anna

Susan P. Thank you very much for making the distinctions in the conditions of a person, when it is appropriate to withdraw food and water, and when it is not.

To all, because I have been aware of this case for a long time, here are somethings that might need remembering.

Michael has not allowed anyone to see if Terri could be taught to eat by mouth. So, with proper rehabilition she might not even need the tube feeding.

Last time, when he tried to legally murder her, she was denied any Viaticum. Police officers were there to prevent it from happening.

chris K

Rah! Rah! The bishop has done his duty by copying and reproducing the Church's teachings and delivered them for some one time evidence of "action". Frankly, most who would even read and be willing to digest these notes had already known the teachings and could easily find them on their own. Others could care less. Why? Because the bishops of Florida frankly don't, in their persons, feel this case is important enough to bodily witness to. God certainly did not give such an example when He sent His own Son to live AMONGST us in human form. He witnessed in crowds that were about to stone Him. He went against the authorities - civil and religious - who were in error. If these bishops had been some of His disciples at the time, I could envision them kidnapping Jesus and hiding him in some cave so He wouldn't be able to witness in His body and endanger Himself and them. And I think this attitude links to the present day loss of faith in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus amongst us. That Presence isn't really necessary and its place in its own temple has become reduced, become secondary to worship. Crazy but true. The use of the full man, without division giving importance these days only to the intellect through technology, is missing. The Holy Father, in these special days, is giving instruction (esp. in his priests in formation) to be ready for some kind of great persecution for standing up for the truth, for life. Get ready for even martyrdom. Perhaps the bishops in Florida should have attached those words to the flat teachings. But, then, they'd have to put their actions where their words are! In Terri's case they have witnessed to just the opposite and to the loss of faith in the Eucharist by joining in silence with those who deny her these Blessed Sacraments.

Rick

Chris,

Bishop Lynch's position is perfectly clear to me. He's against removing the feeding tube.

Again, Chris, I have to disagree.

In 2000 Father Gerard Murphy, a priest of Bishop Lynch's and the medical expert for the diocese of St. Petersburg testified on behalf of Michael Schiavo. Here is a portion of his testimony:

Q I want you to assume, Father Murphy, for purposes of this question that Theresa Schiavo told her husband that if she were dependent on the care of others she would not want to live like that. And also Theresa Schiavo mentioned to her husband and to her brother and sister-in-law that she would not want to be kept alive artificially.

Assuming that information to be correct, father, would the removal of Theresa Schiavo's feeding tube be consistent or inconsistent with the position of the Catholic church?

A After all that has transpired, I believe, yes, it would be consistent with the teaching of the Catholic church.

Again, Father Murphy was Bishop Lynch's advisor on end-of-life issues, served on the ethics committees of various hospitals, is widely published on end-of-life issues with ecclesiastical approval, etc.

My understanding is that Father Murphy describes the current policy of Catholic health care institutions: If Terri's parents agreed with Michael that Terri would want ANH withdrawn, a Catholic hospital could and would withdraw it.

(If I am wrong in this understanding, I hope Susan or another medical professional will correct me).

Al, I'm aware of the Holy Father's statement you referenced. Certainly it has reshaped and redefined the debate over ANH. The Holy Father has made it clear that one may not argue that ANH is of "no benefit" to persons with pvs.

But that does not mean a patient is obliged to make use of ANH if he or she finds it psychologically repugnant or "unreasonably burdensome" for other reasons. Again, it is my understanding that the US bishops' current directives to Catholic hospitals say that ANH is notobligatory if the patient finds it repugnant; and these directives have not to my knowledge been changed in the wake of the Holy Father's statement.



chris K

But that does not mean a patient is obliged to make use of ANH if he or she finds it psychologically repugnant or "unreasonably burdensome" for other reasons

Rick, speaking of an alert, sensitive, not in the distress where they have come to the point where feeding actually causes such stress on the body that it would be a means of causing an earlier death (the case of my mother-in-law with COPD), I don't think the patient is aware of the suffering involved, for days, that they would undergo without food and water. Those in positions to relate this to the patient must do so in order to free themselves from becoming ministers of expediting death. People don't realize the misery involved. Did you happen to read or hear the woman in the similar position as Terri who could not communicate that while being starved she was screaming "inside", begging them to stop, believing she was going mad? The inconvenience of the implanting of the device to receive the feeding tube may appear very annoying, but not doing so in many cases would be far worse. I have found over and over that doctors and nurses repeat the "no suffering", "easy way to go" mantra, yet have to administer morphine or other painkillers to overcome the pain involved. This must be done with great amounts....so, why not just do that in the beginning??? Same result. And, with the lack of nurses today, the patient is often left to suffer alone without the monitoring needed once this has begun. We've seen the deplorable "nursing" conditions with Terri - even in a Hospice facility.

Dale Price

Everything you need to know about Bishop Lynch's position on this issue is contained in Rick's post above (9:01am) and this sad fact:

The Schlinders and Terri are being ministered to by a retired Monsignor and a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. Per Fr. Rob Johansen, Lynch has ordered his priests to have nothing to do with Terri and the Schindlers.

In an inspiring defense of the sacraments, he said not a peep about the forcible denial of Viaticum to Terri last year.

If Terri was facing the electric chair for killing a couple of people in a bank heist, Lynch would probably have something meaningful to say on her behalf. If she was facing benefits cuts by her employer, he wouldn't be doing a furniture impression.

Sleep well, bishop.

al

Rick,
Again, just provide one citation for the notion that one can withdraw ordinary and proportionate care because one finds it "psychologically repugnant."

I don't even know what that would mean for someone in Terri Shiavo's condition.

The bishops specifically enjoin against "the withdrawal of technology with the intention of causing death." That can be either an act (withdrawal) or an ommission (forgoing ordinary care) that results in death.

The Bishops identify only 2 conditions where there can even be consideration given to the withdrawal of care "These statements agree that hydration and nutrition are not morally obligatory either when they bring no comfort to a person who is imminently dying or when they cannot be assimilated by a person's body"

Meaning that in all other cases they are morally obligatory.

"A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community"

As the Holy Father indicates, if the food and water is keeping the person alive, then it is performing its function.

If the person has to be kept alive, by extraordinary means, solely to take in food and water, then its clear they are in extremis.

There is no grey area here. It's murder, regardless of what Bishop Lynch and his assistant say.

Tom Kelty

As a medical social worker now retired, I spent 25 years in end-of-life care in Oncology and Hospice. Much of the furor in this case, in my opinion, flows from the fact that it mirrors our unspoken and unresolved anxieties about our own dying, the when and how and who. It must be clear to all by now that there is no such thing as a perfect advance directive. I once saw several MDs and lawyers produce a 22 page advance directive, which was picked apart by their own professions.
Her parents, church and husaband and the legal and medical professions have nuanced this beyond all reason. Today at 5pm the court stay ends. Why not prayerfully accept the husbands contention that he and Terri did have a conversation about this possibility and allow her to end her life with some peace and dignity AND PRIVACY. She will not suffer the "pangs of starvation" as some believe based on their own futile efforts to lose weight inappropriately. It will be a peaceful and gradual transition, marked by increased sleepiness. The ugly truth is that the medical profession has an endless arsenal of techniques to prolong life. I suspect that many readers have not had a serious talk with their family about advanced directives and never wrote down even the most primitive plans. They would do well to involve their MDs and lawyers in such discussions while they are alert enough to do so. Review them every 5 or 19 years. Allow for the fact that there may be last minute differences but make sure that the central intention is clear. This makes it easier for the court and for the caregivers who usually have their own complicating issues.
Seldom will we see a case that is as classic as this for raw emotions and hatred, not to put too fine an edge on it.
Believe the husband, and accept the fact that he and Terri had a verbal contract and allow her to depart quietly. I wonder if we would have all this mess if the husband was dying and Terri was the complainant. I think not!

Rick

al,

I've already provided the citations.

Treatment or even ordinary care a patient finds unreasonably burdensome is, per, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, by definition "disproportionate" and may licitly be refused:


56. A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.40

57. A person may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life. Disproportionate means are those that in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.41

58. There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

59. The free and informed judgment made by a competent adult patient concerning the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should always be respected and normally complied with, unless it is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

The US bishops provide a further gloss on what constitutes "excessive burden":


Catholic theologians have traditionally viewed medical treatment as excessively burdensome if it is "too painful, too damaging to the patient's bodily self and functioning, too psychologically repugnant to the patient, too restrictive of the patient's liberty and preferred activities, too suppressive of the patient's mental life, or too expensive."[20]


Further, I don't think that Father Murphy's interpretation of how these norms might apply to Terri is at all exceptional.

I suspect his view is the consensus of experts serving on Ethics Committees of Catholic Hospitals — and this has the most weight with me.

I'm simply not prepared to say that Catholic medical professionals, operating under the guidance and direction of the US bishops, are routinely committing gravely evil acts.


al

Rick,
Again, nothing in what you've quoted says that "psychological repugnance" can be used to say that nutrition is "disproportionate."

Food is aimed at keeping the person nourished. Food is not aimed at bringing someone out of a coma, or curing cancer, or fixing organ failure.

That's what the word proportionate means.

And that's why someone would bother to remove food and water from a person who wasn't in imminent danger of death--because it is proportionate and keeping them alive.

Claiming that food and water that is keeping a person alive, is "disproportionate" is a sophistry aimed at facilitating murder.

Tom Kelty

The length of the survival time once nutrition
is discontinued is highly variable. So there is powerful potential for emotional extremes by all the parties involved. So there is need for prayer-filled reflections on the situation rather than knee-jerk emotionalism. Help Terri live with dignity until God calls. This could easily be a period of several weeks.

al

How hard is this to understand?: You cannot "decide" to die, to end suffering.

You must suffer. End of story.

It's mean and icky and whatever, but that's life.

Suffering is not the worst evil.

Moral evil, like murder or suicide is the worst evil.

al

Tom,
What you are suggesting is not soothing, and melancholically wise.

It is barbaric, and practically satanic.

JohnMcG

I guess I just don't see the point in focussing our attention on the bishops in this situation.

Maybe we should see it as a compliment to them; that we think that they might be moved by this criticism to act differently.

But I just don't see how the Christian response to this situation is to Google search for statements by the local bishop so that I can use it to criticize his inaction.

Matthew 25 doesn't read "I was hungry, and you complained about the lack of diocesan food shelters."

Rick

Al,

It is not the nutrition that is disproportionate, but the artificial means of delivering it that can be: eg, the surgically inserted tube, the constant need for antibiotics to prevent infection, etc.

al

Rick,
Again, that's sophistry.

The tube accomplishes its end--feeding. Its not disproportionate, by definition.

If it was disproportionate, you wouldn't have inserted it in the first place.

If you want to claim its burdensome, you have to demonstrate the burden.

But thankfully the pope has ended the sophism over whether feeding is proportionate.

James Freeman

Somehow, Robert Oppenheimer's famous quoting of the Bhagavad Gîtâ comes to mind after reading this thread. It seems an apt description of what our society is now all about -- and what has been embraced by large segments of the Church, including many of her bishops (in one way or another):

Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

When you can't recognize murder when you see it, I think you're officially playing for The Other Side.

Chris Sullivan

Rick,

Father Gerard Murphy's evidence, in which he stated that withdrawal of Terri's feeding tube "would be consistent with the teaching of the Catholic church" if Terri had indicated "she would not want to be kept alive artificially" is clearly contradicted by his own Bishop Lynch, who stated :-

"Catholic teaching notes that the proxy may not deliberately cause a patient’s death or refuse ordinary and normal treatment, even if he or she believes a patient would have made such a decision."

It looks like a clear case of priest versus bishop to me.

And why is a Catholic Priest giving evidence for Terri's husband, the one who wants to kill her ?

Rick writes :-

I'm simply not prepared to say that Catholic medical professionals, operating under the guidance and direction of the US bishops, are routinely committing gravely evil acts.

Everything that I've seen about the way Catholic institutions are often run does not give me the same confidence in them. Unfortunately, for many, money is stronger than faith.

God Bless

chris K

Help Terri live with dignity until God calls.

That's what we're trying to do, Tom, but there are an awful lot of people trying to cause interference with His perfect timing and take things into their own hands.

Have you actually read the facts of this case and the aggressive control against even basic care this "husband" has exhibited? Don't treat infection, prohibit any stimulation (breaking wheelchair so never goes outside, forbids parents to take her, keeps her in darkness, neglects even basic dental care, terrorizes her during visits - witnessed by caregivers, destroys any positive notation by caregivers in official charts (a crime BTW), forbids family visitation for months,forbids personal spiritual comfort - it just goes on and on). As you so "objectively" rule, "let the husband have his way" - she'll be peaceful! He's a sadist! Read what he did to the other woman he had the affair with during the marriage before the common law wife the bigamist has now? Did you even read how necessary it was for Terri to be administered strong pain medication the last starvation attempt? That was because she was so "peaceful"? God spare me from "medical social workers" such as yourself who side with the heartless. I too was a hospital social worker and believe me, this kind of abuse would have been reported by me, job loss or no. No wonder abuse goes unreported. The ones charged with reporting it side with the abuser! The one caregiver of Terri's who did go to the police, I read, was fired. There sure appears to be a lot of other deaf dumb and blind outside of medical facilities who need a good dose of resusitation with the facts! The insane are now in control of the asylum that appears to be Florida. Has anyone read the writings of whacky Mr. Felos? A lot of the caregivers around Terri now used to work for him when he was on the board of directors of this Hospice. Whew! What more evidence that Terri has been in a black hole do you need?

Peggy

Just in--ABC radio: Greer extends stay until Friday of this week. Let us pray for this man's soul. Things appear to be in his hands at this time. Felos sounded miffed that there could be "no finality" if the judge kept granting these "automatic extensions." That's right, bucko. The finality will come in God's time, not yours & Michael's.

chris K

Interesting development of the DCF possible involvement. From FOX news:

E-MAIL STORY PRINTER FRIENDLY FOXFAN CENTRAL
Stay in Schiavo Case Extended 48 Hours
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

PHOTOS VIDEO

Click image to enlarge
STORIES
•Emergency Stay Issued in Schiavo Case•Right-to-Die Case Rests on Court's Action•Schiavo Supporters Launch Protest Campaign•Schiavo's Parents Ask Husband to Divorce Her•Supreme Court Clears Way to Pull Schiavo's Feeding Tube•Bush Asks High Court to Take Schiavo Case•Fla. Judge Rejects New Schiavo Trial•Court Rejects Request for New Schiavo Hearing
CLEARWATER, Fla. — A state circuit judge Wednesday extended until 5 p.m. Friday the stay keeping Terri Schiavo's (search) feeding tube intact, saying he needed time to consider more arguments from her parents from her parents that she should undergo new medical tests and that her husband should be dismissed as her guardian.

Meanwhile the Florida Department of Children & Families (search) moved to intervene in the legal battle over the life of the brain-damaged woman.

Details of the agency's involvement in the case were not immediately available; Circuit Judge George Greer denied a DCF attorney an opportunity to speak at the afternoon hearing.

George Felos (search), who represents Terri Schiavo's husband Michael, criticized the DCF move, saying it "reeks of the intervention of politics into the case and is an affront to the court."

Gibbs countered that there are serious allegations of abuse in the case.

The DCF involvement came hours after Gov. Jeb Bush (search) told reporters he was seeking a means to intervene in the case.


Tom Kelty

Chris K.
Yes, I have followed the events closely for several months. I am not shooting from the hip. I repeat my previous words to everyone.Please chill!! Your response seems to be based on emotion and YOUR READING of care issues and charting in which you do not seem to have direct involvement. Your emotions are way ahead of you. You are supposed to have had some professional training. Presumably you once learned that you need to respond as an intelligent caring listener. How duid you arrive at such an irrational hatred for the husband? Where did you get the power to act as judge and jury and to teach others? Do you realize that you and people who share your biases are a major part of the problem? Do you know that there are situations in life that do not have easy answers? You have no evidence at all that the husband is the fiend you describe and I wonder how you would answer to a charge of libel.
The DCF involvement is not helpful considering its sad record in family matters and the generally poor quality of its legal department.

chris K

Do you know that there are situations in life that do not have easy answers?

This one does, Tom. Let Terri live and give her into her family's care. Doesn't take emotion beyond the heart and any sane person's God given reason to comprendez that.

How duid you arrive at such an irrational hatred for the husband?

I have no hatred for the husband. I just related behavior that has been reported everywhere, quoting witnesses. I just think, therefore, due to that behavior, the husband should be kept far, far away from Terri. And if you are as in touch with the facts as you claim, you should have come to the same conclusion. Her sister can tell you that at times he should have had a restraining order. She slept with a hammer under her bed, so deathly afraid of him was she.

Your response seems to be based on emotion and YOUR READING of care issues

Could you explain that again? You lost me.

Do you realize that you and people who share your biases are a major part of the problem?

Mr. Felos' problem, yeah, and that's just fine with me.

Chris Sullivan

Every person is put on this planet for a reason and has a job to do that only they can do. If they don't do it, then noone else can do it for them.

If we kill a person then we are attempting to frustrate the divine plan for that person, by preventing them living to carry out God's plan for them. This is why only God has the right to take human life.

I don't know what plan God has in mind for Terri, but I do know that if we kill her then we are opposing his plan.

We are continually tempted to think that everything is sooooo complicated and difficult and hard to understand. Endless are the arguments advanced to justify abortion, war, the death penalty, and euthanasia.

But in reality it's very simple, which is why Moses was given a simple command "thou shalt not kill".

Christ refered to this simplicity when he said that, to come close to him, we must become like little children, who often see the difference between good and evil more clearly than educated adults.

God Bless

Donald R. McClarey

Judge Greer's behavior strikes me as odd. Throughout the case he has shown little concern for the issues that he now wishes to ponder. I believe he, perhaps, is finally beginning to understand what a firestorm across this nation he will ignite if he allows Mr. Schiavo to put Mrs. Schiavo to death through dehydration. If Greer backs down and allows Terri to live, this could be further evidence that something fundamental is changing in this country. Taken together with Senator Clinton's faux expressions of concern about abortion, the tide of pro-life legislation being proposed in state after state, and other recent events, perhaps just perhaps, the tide is beginning to turn against the culture of death.

al

And Tom Kelty, incapable of arguing the point, resorts to ad hominems. Pathetic.

Tom Kelty

Al,
I think you enjoy adding your little observations. It is an issue that should concern us all right where we live or plan to die. I think we all owe Terri a large measure of privacy and peace. The circus atmosphere which you add to with cheap shots, will resolve nothing except the sale of tabloids and sensationalism of all sorts. I think that the intervention of the local welfare lawyers and the politicians will make this an even larger counter-productive mess with all kinds of posturing. I do not see how the local Bishop could have been more thorough or clear. I do see the emotionalism common in such cases when people hear things they do not want to hear.
Chris (above) typifies this problem. As a social worker she was trained in the disciplined use of her self in a broad range of situations. See how her judgment gets twisted by hearsay and tabloids. Not a pretty sight,

al

Tom,
You don't know anything about me.

I refer to your argument, which is ad hominem, trying to portray a rational argument against ever countenancing an act which falls into the species of killing of an innnocent, as emotionalism.

If you are incapable, intellectually of understanding the ethical categories involved, you should acknowledge that, rather that calling people "emotional" or remostrating with them with counterfeit claims of "healing" those who would perpetrate murder in the act.

What is clear regarding this act is that it is murder, and those who attempt to obscure this or facilitate it are material parties to it.

James Freeman

Tom writes:

I think we all owe Terri a large measure of privacy and peace. The circus atmosphere which you add to with cheap shots, will resolve nothing except the sale of tabloids and sensationalism of all sorts. I think that the intervention of the local welfare lawyers and the politicians will make this an even larger counter-productive mess with all kinds of posturing. I do not see how the local Bishop could have been more thorough or clear. I do see the emotionalism common in such cases when people hear things they do not want to hear.

IOW, "Move along, nothing to see here!"

Evil doesn't hold up well under scrutiny. Turn on the floodlights and start screaming bloody murder . . . which pretty much sums it up in this case.

Bloody murder.

Chris Sullivan

Tom,

I think that "emotionalism" is one of the last things one could accuse al of.

What he says is always based on a pretty solid understanding of what the Church teaches.

God Bless

Tom Kelty

Thanks Chris,

What is your hope for peace for Terri as long as people claim the power to read minds and intentions and impute motives, like Al, for instance. All he knows and any of us know, is what we have read and heard. The case has dragged on since 1990. It is more than time to decide and act. If modern medicine has the skills to keep Terri alive for many years or until some opportunistic infection claims her, what does this prove? It is obvious that the state laws need some work. At the moment there is talk of convening the legislature to rush through a law to amend this particular case. We now hear assertions that she can register understanding. Months ago competent experts agreed that her capacity for this was nil. It just goes on and on with no end in sight. Have mercy. Stop the feeding. Accept the truth of what the husband says in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. This very sorry last minute charade of spousal abuse will lead nowhere but will sell millions of tabloids. And it will allow millions of self appointed judges to scream their opinions and demand their version of justice.

Tom Kelty

Al,
I have studied your comments above. Against all prudent reason, you have decided that discontinuing the Jevity is an act of murder pure and simple. The fact that eccleciastical and legal opinion try to make fine distinctions to help resolve the case, your answer is bluntly, "It's murder." And you twist and turn to support this ethically. This allows you to ignore any thought of the husband's rights and duties. It allows you to posture as the grim avenger, lashing out at anyone who questions your thinking. Listen to the local Bishop if you are a man of faith and pray that Terri and everyone find peace with God's plan. Do you really believe that Terri wants to live another 40 or 50 years as living proof of what modern medicine can do? Would you?
How's that for ad hominem?

Donald R.McClarey

"This allows you to ignore any thought of the husband's rights and duties."

Duties of a husband:

1. Don't kill your wife.

2. Don't shack up with another woman, have two children by her and call her your "fiance" , all while your wife is still very much alive.

James Freeman

Tom Kelty writes:

Do you really believe that Terri wants to live another 40 or 50 years as living proof of what modern medicine can do? Would you?

An argument (such as it is) from the pits of Hell.

Whether Terri Schiavo wants to live or not is immaterial. Totally. A suicidal teen-ager, for example, absolutely, positively wants to die, yet most sane people would move heaven and earth to prevent him or her from acting upon that sincere desire.

No, what you are saying is that some lives are without intrinsic value.

Terri is not dying -- she does not suffer from a terminal illness in its final stages. Neither does she suffer from "brain death."

Given those facts, what you advocate here is cold-blooded murder. And as patently offensive as that might be, what is even more offensive is your attempt to baptise and sanctify that abject evil in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

chris K

Chris (above) typifies this problem. As a social worker she was trained in the disciplined use of her self in a broad range of situations. See how her judgment gets twisted by hearsay and tabloids. Not a pretty sight

Hearsay? The only hearsay I see here is your assumptions about my training which description is just silly. You could say the same about a Marine! Go to Terrisfight.org and point out anything that is not backed up by witnesses and/or fact. There is no hearsay there. The only hearsay in this case is that which this judge has based the entire case around, contrary to Florida law, some years AFTER the original argument, and AFTER a jury award was granted and sworn to by the husband to only be used for Terri's rehab. I would say that your own argument, Tom, is mere projecting of what your own response has been on to others! without really examining the facts of medical evidence that points to the possibility of a lot of past abuse of Terri, which now finally may be examined. And a compassionate, reasonable social worker would recommend this?:

From Newsmax:

Noting that "the patients we are discussing are not terminally ill" and that those who are conscious can feel hunger and thirst, author and medical ethicist Wesley Smith quotes Dr. William Burke, a neurologist in St. Louis, who described the agonizing process.

"A conscious person would feel it (dehydration) just as you and I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water. Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death."

This is "going in peace" to your mind? God help us in a world with such lack of understanding and compassion.

al

Tom,
You're argumentation shows you to be utterly unaquainted with the moral theology involved.

"Do you really believe that Terri wants to live another 40 or 50 years as living proof of what modern medicine can do?"

First of all, neither of us can know, or surmise what she wants.

Second, regardless of what she "wants", you cannot end her life to achieve that.

What if a parapalegic found his existence a cruel interminable joke? Or someone in chronic pain from a nervous system injury?

Why should they be forced to endure, if we can decide for a "vegetable" that their life isn't worth living?

There's no "lashing out" here--there's just logic, and a knowledge of Church doctrine based on natural law, which says this is M-U-R-D-E-R.

No censorious expressions on your part will change that.

Tom Kelty

Please be aware that Terri can be made as comfortable as possible during this process. Hydration should continue as long as her body can handle the fluid intake. Oral and nasal care and routine bathing, bowel and bladder care and turning and positioning will also help her.
Hospice care is hard. There is always something more to be done. The parents and the husband have their own particular needs. The staff at bedside need a chance to share their concerns.
Of course, if everyone agrees that this is MURDER, as Al says, then it is a different ballgame and we should circle the wagons....until, until... You see the notion of time defies us here. Is this life? of any quality? Try to imagine yourself in her place for 24 hours, then multiply it by 15 years. There is no hope for improvement or cure. It is anguishing and perplexing and does not admit of simple solutions. So pray that God guide everyone.

James Freeman

Tom Kelty writes:

Of course, if everyone agrees that this is MURDER, as Al says, then it is a different ballgame and we should circle the wagons....until, until... You see the notion of time defies us here. Is this life? of any quality? Try to imagine yourself in her place for 24 hours, then multiply it by 15 years.

To follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, we would have to agree that the SS guards at the extermination camps did suffering Jewish prisoners a great mercy when they finally led them to the gas chambers.

Or put a bullet into their heads. With the use of this method, I'm assured the "patient" never felt a thing.

And I think you just confirmed it beyond a reasonable doubt: No, you don't believe every life has intrinsic value.

How exactly does that square with mere Christianity, not to mention Catholic dogma?

Tom Kelty

Dear James
Your emotions have you by the throat. You and Al live by your own ipse dixit. You have condemned Terri to a life sentence with out parole. I saw the Cardinal's input and I suggest there is no way this can be compared to euthanasia. It is high profile and all are watching. I insist it is inhumane to force her to live simply because we do not know how to resolve this. It would be respectful of her human dignity to allow Terri to enjoy her first day in Eternity far away from this sordid scene. So you and many others think the husband is a louse. Many couples have hate-filled marriages. Correct the legislation which makes it possible and beneficial (for him) to stay married. But give some thought to allowing Terri to move on. Do not make and keep her a prisoner to our inability to resolve this impasse. Put an end to the posturing and inane comments. PEACE!!

James Freeman

No, Tom, what has me by the throat is reason and my Catholic faith. I believe my observations and arguments are consistent with both.

You, on the other hand, fail to address a single reason-based argument, responding with the worst sort of sentimentality and emotionalism. Then, proving we live in an ironic world, you accuse Al and myself of irrational emotionalism and inanity.

I stand with the Church. If the comments of Cardinal Martino -- who is no right-winger -- do not persuade you of Church doctrine on this issue, you have "issues" that faith and reason cannot dent.

I fear for a world where people -- particularly in the Catholic Church -- confuse murder and mercy.

Tom Kelty

Face the facts. Are husbands and wives allowed by civil and church and the moral law to make their wishes about the end of life known to each other? Civil law and the church encourage them to do so, precisely to avoid ugly stand-offs like this. Did Mike and Terri have such a discussion? Mike says they did, more than once. You and Al and many others enjoy indulging your rescue phantasies. The reality is you would prefer that Terri be condemned to a life sentence without parole to satisfy your spin on Terri's case. The Cardinal's input at this late hour is not helpful but it feeds the media's need to heighten the aggravation of all concerned. The local Bishop has taken great care in stating the guidelines. It is not an easy decision and it is a cop-out to pontificate that this is MURDER as Al loves to say. It is a complex painful decision and prayer is more helpful than posturing.

Jennifer

Today, I am trying to reach as many people of possible to request that we fly our American flags at half staff in solidarity for Terri and to reject American's New Culture of Death. PLEASE pass this on! Bless you.

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