Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More Journalistic Disengenuity in Schivo Case

More media spin of the same ilk as the bogus LA Times story on Tom DeLay's father:

A recent Columbia Journalism Review article compared a Texas law that allowed the discontinuance of life support (against family wishes) for Sun Hudson and Spiro Nikolouzos (a statute signed into law by then-Governor Bush) with the now President Bush’s outspoken support of Terri Schiavo and his statement that, “When in doubt…err on the side of life.” The article appears to posit a contradiction if not a hypocracy in this comparison. Frankly, I don’t see it.

Hudson and Nikolouzos (also spelled Nikolous in the article) were both on life support ventilators which were doing all of their breathing for them. Their bodies, due to injury and birth defects, were unable to breathe on their own and their was a clear medical consensus that neither would ever be able to do so. When the decision to discontinue this life support was made, their respective families were given 10 days to locate another facility that would concur with their wishes and continue them on life support (a fact omitted in the CJR article, by the way). No facility could be found that would provide this care for them in their condition. So, even against the families’ wishes, their life support was removed. Both died very quickly.

Although there are many ethical and moral issues involved in these cases they are light years removed from Terri Schiavo’s situation.

Terri is not on any form of life support (a feeding tube is not ordinarily considered to be life support…only at the end stages of a terminal illness is it considered to be life support and hence, appropriate to be discontinued).

Terri's body is physically functioning normally (she even has her monthly “period” which requires pain medication…although it has been said that she is not able to experience pain? Hmmmm….).

There is no medical consensus on her mental status (ie. whether she is in a permanent vegetative condition, a persistent vegetative condition or something even less than that. Note that the fact that her mental status has been legally determined by a court ruling does not necessarily prove the existence of a definitive medical diagnosis).

Lastly, there are dozens if not hundreds of medical facilities which would be willing to continue to provide care for Terri. Not only that, but her parents and family have offered to provide care for her in their own home…something routinely done in thousands of homes across our country every day.

With the two people in Texas, when their ventilators were disconnected they died, because they were not able to live without it.

With Terri, her life relies only on the same food and water that you and I require to sustain our own lives. If food and water were to be withheld from you and me, we would die. The same is true for Terri. She is not terminally ill. She is not dying. The only way to get her to die is to kill her in some way or other. The method of choice requested by her husband and approved by Judge Greer is starvation. Without intervention, Terri would live. With the Texas pair, without intervention they died.

To compare these cases as being comparable is to stretch logic well past the breaking point. Certainly there is grief and death and controversy in each of these situations. But that does not make them morally, ethically, medically or legally comparable.

I conclude by quoting the Columbia Journalism Review where it admits, "The cases are different…”

For anyone to suggest or imply that they are not different is both misleading and dishonest.