Praying the Post

Reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee in one hand and a rosary in the other.

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Friday, March 25, 2005
Non sequitur

From a Post article covering the Terri Schiavo case:
The Schindlers had been hoping that Jeb Bush could save their daughter by presenting an affidavit from William P. Cheshire, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., who says Schiavo may be in a "minimally conscious," rather than "vegetative," state, as court-appointed doctors believe.

Cheshire has been a vocal critic of assisted suicide. An article attributed to him on the Web site advocated Jews converting to Christianity. "Should not we who are in Christ lift the yoke of persecution from the shoulders of the Jewish people and refresh them with the truth of the Lord of the Sabbath?" the article says.

Pinellas County Circuit Judge George W. Greer ruled that Bush's attempt to use Cheshire's report as a basis for taking custody of Schiavo appeared to be a violation of the constitutional separation the legislative, judicial and executive branches. "By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment-assistance," Greer wrote.
One of these paragraphs is not like the others. Can you tell which one?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
A child of Singer

The Washington Post ran a letter to the editor today from a Wisconsin neurologist, who makes several claims.
PVS, or "cortical death," is the irreversible loss of the part of the brain controlling judgment and insight. Once cortical death occurs, personhood as we know it is gone.
On this view, there is no such thing as "a person in a persistent vegetative state," since personhood and PVS are incompatible.
• Withdrawing a feeding tube causes dehydration, not starvation. A feeding tube is artificial life support; there is no enjoyment of food. Drugs such as morphine can help keep the victim comfortable and peaceful during the dying process.
• Keeping a PVS victim "alive" usually costs more than $100,000 annually, often at taxpayers' expense.
Most neurologists encourage termination of life support when the diagnosis and prognosis are clear. Extending "life" causes an unnatural lack of healthy, spiritual closure for the family.
So let's tone down the rhetoric, Bishop Wenski; Terri Schiavo is not "starving to death." She will die long before that happens. And she does not enjoy food, which means all those right-to-life arguments based on how much she enjoys food are unsound. Furthermore, she can be put on artificial death support, if the assurances of well-fed doctors that death by starvation dehydration is peaceful doesn't entirely cut it.

And think of all the money we'll save once that "life" terminates!

The letter was written to "help clarify the issues." I think it is extraordinarily successful in doing just that. The writer makes clear that, within the American medical community, it is acceptable to regard PVS patients as non-persons who should die for the good of others.