Wednesday, March 23, 2005[posted by jaed at 5:03 PM]
Theresa Schiavo: Arguments in favor (I)
First, some quick facts as I have gleaned them, to provide a basis for continuing:
- Everyone (who has actual knowledge of the case) agrees that Theresa Schiavo is not brain-dead. Brain death has a specific legal meaning: it means cessation of all brain activity. A brain-dead body cannot be kept going, heart beating, etc. without extreme medical intervention, including a ventilator. A brain-dead body cannot be kept going for long even with such intervention. Brain-dead bodies do not normally move or vocalize. Brain death is also legal death: if Theresa Schiavo were brain-dead, there would be no legal question about her death because she'd already be dead.
- Everyone agrees (I think) that she is not in a coma.
- Everyone agrees that she has severe brain damage.
- Whether she is in a persistent vegetative state - a permanent state of unawareness of her surroundings, and no cognitive activity - is in dispute.
- Everyone agrees that she did not write down her wishes for and against medical treatment should she become disabled or ill.
- Whether she expressed a wish to be taken off medical treatment in these circumstances is in dispute.
- Whether she might be able to benefit from therapy, and recover some additional capacity for thought and interaction, is in dispute.
- Everyone agrees that she does not require extraordinary measures to keep her alive (she is not on a ventilator, respirator, or similar machinery).
- Whether she is able to eat normally, or would be if given standard swallowing therapy, is in dispute.
- Everyone agrees that she is more or less healthy apart from her brain injury, that she has no terminal disease or condition, and that if fed, she could live a normal lifespan.
- Everyone agrees that if she is not given food and water soon, she will die of thirst.
(continued in Part II)