Swinging on the Lifeline

When Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed, a new standard was set for the value of human life. In a world where the value of a single human life is continually underrepresented, society has reached a new low. The American court system authorized and approved dozens of times the murder of Schiavo with the removal of her feeding tube. With this decision, we are now placing the value of life, particularly the lives of the disabled, in the hands of the judicial system. Though similar measures have been taken with life support patients and patients in a coma, a feeding tube is a much less drastic measure than life support. While life support requires extreme amounts of electricity and forced breathing, feeding tubes are much more common and are often used with premature children. What next? Will patients with invasive dental work whose jaws are wired shut be expected to eat solid food or die? Furthermore, many doctors have made claims that Terri is in a less severe state than her doctor claims she is. The issue was debated in congress, and a doctor nominated for the Nobel prize even made the claim that with the proper rehabilitation, Terri could be communicating verbally in less than two years. If Schiavo is indeed not in a persistent vegetative state, there is the possibility that Terri will suffer as she is being starved to death. In addition, she may be able to recover to the point that she can communicate with her friends and family. If this is the case, her murder would be barbaric and unjust, hardly a mercy killing of any sort. Yet, Schiavo’s husband, Michael, persists in his attempts to take his wife’s life. He and his lawyers also persist in claiming that they are honoring Terri’s best interests. However, Mr. Schiavo’s claims have come into question, and rightly so, considering that in the decade which has passed since Terri’s lapse into a vegetative state, he has made a new life with another woman and has two children with her. Moreover, the money, totaling one million dollars, which he received in a malpractice suit, is suspected to be dwindling extremely low, supposedly less than 50,000 dollars. If Michael Schiavo truly had Terri’s best interests in his mind and heart, he would turn over her custody to her family, who seems to genuinely want to care for Terri. The Terri Schiavo case has torn the country apart. However, out of all of the darkness Schiavo’s case has created, positive effects have emerged as well. Many people are creating living wills, which define the care to be taken in situations which require extreme medical care, such as life support and feeding tubes. With this development, fewer cases like Schiavo’s will emerge in the future. People can and should make the decision about their medical coverage, saving their families and the courts time, effort, and pain in the case of tragedy.