Oh, I Could Just Die!
(First published in the November 2003
Sauk Centre Knights of Columbus Bulletin)
Down in Florida, there's a man with a
girlfriend. She's already had one of his babies, and is carrying
another. Word is, they want to
get married. Just one problem: he's
already married. And getting a divorce might be awkward, since his wife
is in a hospital and not at all well. She's been that way since 1990.
Happily for the two lovebirds, there's a
simple solution. He says that his wife would rather die than go on
living this way, has the doctors stop giving her food and water.
Once her tongue cracks, skin peels, and a
vital organ or two fails, he is free. Even better, he gets whatever is
left of the $750,000 medical malpractice award. That money was for her
Not much money has been wasted on her
rehabilitation. Hey, she's in a "vegetative state," so why bother?
So, with whatever is left from three
quarters of a million dollars, and a brand-new live-in with ready-made
family, everyone would have lived happily ever after.
Except for the guy's wife, Terri
Her parents said she didn't want to die, and raised a fuss. What will
happen to Terri is not certain. A judge and some medical experts say she
should be put through the agonies of death by starvation, but the
Florida legislature and governor are trying to stop this execution.
The point of all this is that with more
and more excuses to kill people who are inconvenient, getting some kind
of written legal protection is more important than ever.
Someone who is unable to speak, and can't
run away, can be killed. Legally. The legal term for what Terri's
husband is trying to do is "surrogacy." That's speaking on behalf of
someone who can't speak for themselves at the moment. ("Yes, doctor, mumsie would want to die, so I can inherit the estate while I'm still
young enough to enjoy it.")
This is very real. Arizona has county
officials called Public Fiduciaries who step in when someone gets quiet
and doesn't have friends or family nearby. The PF gets a doctor, and the
two can decide to stop "artificially feeding" someone. That could be
trouble, if you are in Arizona and get paralyzed.
This is a nation-wide problem, at least.
Medical "ethics" aren't what they used to be. It's been two decades now
since the American Medical Association scrapped the Hippocratic Oath,
with those inconvenient notions of not killing patients. This voice of
organized medicine has been pushing the idea of "withholding" medical
treatment for those who don't fit their ideals of health.
The new idea is that no one should have
to suffer a "quality of life" which is below some point. (I take this
personally: my "quality of life" is pretty low from an athlete's point
of view, but I'd rather keep breathing! — B. Gill)
Don't assume that every doctor will try
to keep you alive. Things
don't work that way any more. Some kind of written proof that you don't
want to be bumped off may be needed. In Minnesota, there is a Will to
Live Health Care Directive that can be written with – or without – a
This document will give the names
of people you trust who can speak for you, and describes what
treatment you do and don't want (and don't get sentimental: 'all
those tubes. kept me alive once, and I'm not sorry! B.G.). This will
help your family by making it clear what you actually want. The
National Right to Live Committee has more information. They can be found
on the Web at
www nrlc.org (click "Will to Live"). Or, write
Right to Life Committee
512 10th St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
(Facts from Fox News (www.foxnews.com), MCCL News October 2003, NRLC (www nrlc.org), and NewsMax (www.newsmax.com).)
Let's Hope This
One Stays Pretty and Healthy
January 22, 2006: The Associated Press
reported that Michael Schiavo married
Jodi Centonze. These two obviously like
each other, since they had two kids while Terri was hospitalized.
For her sake, considering how Mr.
Schiavo acted the last time his wife became bedridden, I hope that Jodi
remains healthy, active and attractive for many years to come.
And, for all our sakes, I hope that
more folks in this country can learn that it's not nice, or right, to
starve others to death.
Brian H. Gill
Brian H. Gill, Editor,
Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin