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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 "rehabilitation."

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 Schiavo 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 lawyer.

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 (click "Will to Live"). Or, write

National Right to Life Committee
512 10th St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
telephone (202) 626-8800


(Facts from Fox News (, MCCL News October 2003, NRLC (www, and NewsMax (

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

November 2003

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This page last updated December 19, 2010