Posted by Gary on February 7, 2008
Pastor friends and I were among about 30 people (beside press and attorneys) who had a place in a federal courtroom during the Terri Schiavo case. I will never forget how I felt when I heard the evidence on which Terri would eventually be starved to death. Terri did not have a living will, there was no written, legal proof of Terri’s intentions concerning her life but this is what we heard: Terri made a comment after watching a movie about someone on life support and said that she wouldn’t want to live like that. Then we were told that Terri visited a relative in the hospital who apparently was near death and stated that she would want to be on life support.
I remember sitting there thinking, “This is it?” “This is the basis on which you determine that someone would want to be starved to death?” Do you realize how many things we say at the end of an emotional movie or visit to a nursing home or hospital room that we would never want held over us after emotion subsided? First of all (and we must keep making this point) a machine breathing for us or keeping our heart beating is different than a tube to feed us (though in many states a feeding tube is considered life support).
When seeing something difficult and emotional we all make declarations but these are rarely statements based on full information or sufficient time to consider. I am sure no one said to Terri after she made her statement (if she did): “Terri, what if you were on a feeding tube and not a machine?” or “Terri, would you want your death to come by starvation?” It is a frightening and evil thing that Terri Schiavo was starved to death on the basis of a few claimed comments on the heels of emotional circumstances.
Now we turn to Lauren Richardson, and this from the News Journal:
According to court records, Lauren’s mother testified that her daughter said, “Don’t ever leave me hooked up to life support. I would not want that,” while the two watched a program about Terri Schiavo.
Pat Anderson, an attorney who represented Terri’s parents is quoted in the article:
Anderson said her great fear during the Schiavo case was “that all those people who looked at the television screen [and saw the video of Terri Schiavo] and said, ‘I wouldn’t want to live like that,’ might live to regret it because those words might come back at them,” she said. “Those sort of casual remarks would be elevated to an oral directive,” she said– exactly what happened in this case, “If the mother’s testimony is accurate.”
Do we not know human nature? Have we not all said things in an emotional moment that we might not have understood the full ramifications of? Decisions that might end our lives must be deliberative, established by the passage of time (not momentary or in moments of emotion) and must be legally documented. Will this be another person who dies without having her wish verified? I doubt that many people who say that they wouldn’t want to be on life support mean that they would want to be starved to death.
Be careful little mouth what you say, in America it might lead to your death by starvation.
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