Tuesday, March 29, 2005


The legally justified moral outrage is complete. We do not know what Shiavo's real wishes were. We have two emotional parties in diametric opposition, willing to testify under penalty of perjury, regarding the actual expressed wishes of the afflicted. To my knowledge, the court has never seen a written, notarized living will or health proxy for Shiavo, in her words. This is too bad. I have had a living will for years. There will be no extraordinary means of resuscitation or sustenance for me.

Many have inserted living wills into this argument. They say those are now being challenged, and this case will worsen the state of those challenges. This is a pathetic red herring. Shiavo did not have a living will. This point is irrelevant. If a living will existed to be challenged, I would respect her wishes regardless of the outcome. I find it frightening that one of these United States would act to favor death, in the absence of a written expressed wishes.

Yes, it was legal. Yes, she exhausted her appeals. This is not in dispute. We should respect the law. I agree with Justice Scalia. The law should now be constitutionally challenged and overturned under the fourteenth amendment. Attempting to circumvent the law is wrong, but we conservative libertarians pride ourselves in respecting the letter of law and constitution, so we must be consistent. Florida judges argued for the spirit of the law in elections, but then they argued the letter of the law in Shiavo. Let them be the hypocrites, and be excoriated for inconsistency. Something can be legal, or illegal, and still be a moral outrage. Slavery was legal, with an entire set of property laws to go with it. Segregation was immoral, but legal. Shiavo's case is just another example of the moral injustice, encapsulated by a legal justice. Where did Terry's rights under the fourteenth amendment go when she suffered brain damage? Where did Terry's fifth amendment rights to not have her own medical records used to testify against her right to live? Where was the ACLU to defend those rights?

It pains me to hear fellow Libertarians step in and argue the Libertarian ideal of sitting at the sidelines and staying out of the families lives. I do not detach a person's individual liberty, then assign it to family members, because it doesn't agree with my position on one particular issue. Terry had inalienable rights to life and liberty; I would never alienate those rights by re-assignment, to facilitate my argument. Florida law does that, but not the Libertarian ideology. Terry's liberty, not her husbands, was the locus here.

What if Michael Shiavo testified that his wife's expressed wish was to help others by organ donation? Why not let him speak for her by donating her corneas, or a single kidney, or use her as a renewable blood supply? If she was permanently vegetative, by doctor certification, why not do some good for others while keeping her alive? I think people would become very uncomfortable with this, but the rationale is not that different than taking her life without documented permission.

The euthanasia crowd want's us to believe one of two things. Some say she was in a state of intolerable suffering. Others say she had no discernible brain function left, hence the persistent vegetation. How can a person without any brain suffer intolerably?

Here is what I would say to them. If you believe both arguments, how do you define suffering? What makes you, or the husband, the mortality arbitrator for this woman without an expressed proxy? If you believe only one of the two arguments, you must be relying on experts. It is very difficult to prove either point. Experts for the court say she had no higher brain function. Other experts say she was suffering. Other experts have been recently found, which say she had minimal sub-conscience brain function. What does this all prove? It proves that the experts are also people, with a moral or political position, and no definitive answer. Most of the experts are doctors. For years we have seen case with lawyers arguing that doctors, hospitals and the health care system is incompetent and they proceed to sue the whole system out of practice . Now those same lawyers argue that a particular, cherry picked, expert court rendered medical opinion is sacrosanct and should not be questioned. Experts have been used in all causes both good and evil. When in doubt, we don't kill people; Until now.

I don't consider nebulous neuro-analysis or psycho-analysis, followed by heated disagreement, solid evidence for a life and death decision for an innocent constitutionally protected citizen of this country. If we had DNA evidence or established, tangible statistical data, reproducible by method, that would be different. We don't. Apparently we have better, more humane standards for capital criminals. Are we now to allow neurologists to display pictures of MRIs and chemical signatures, taken from a defendant, without permission, while under sedation. Are we to accept testimony from the same experts that this person possesses a biologically criminal pattern? Are we then to execute a capital criminal on that evidence alone? I prefer solid evidence, and that it only be used on citizens who have taken the ultimate constitutional right away from other citizens.

So what about that Republican family ideal? More ridiculous ranting by the left. The argue that conservatives are violating their own ideal of family sanctity. Terry had a family; They wanted her to live. She never had a family with her spouse. I don't begrudge him the right to go on with his life, but It's distasteful to see him deal death by default health proxy to his real wife, for his own technical or emotional closure.

What about the cost? This is the most laughable of all. I live in a commonwealth, that wasted sixteen billion dollars on a tunnel, which is now falling apart. How many Shavio's could we support for that money? I think US citizens are special. The priceless value we place on our people, formerly by default, makes us the great nation we are. I don't want the US to become like the apathetic vacationing French, and let over ten thousand senior citizens die in a summer heat wave, while muttering C'est La Vie along the way.

As an agnostic/atheist, why am I siding with the Christian religious right? If I were a pure atheist, I would argue that the life we have is our only known shot, so there is even more urgency to protect it from the arbitrary wishes of others. Secondly, I'm sick of hearing the general bashing of Christian conservatives. If someone believes in the religious sanctity of life, and is not engaged in the hypocrisy of violence, well that's pure American freedom at work. Go take your religious bigotry elsewhere.

There are severely autistic children living in this country, incapable of feeding themselves or expressing a proxy wish. They live in this country. Are we going to allow their parents to cut them loose to let nature take its course? Maybe we should allow those parents to smother those children; To spare them thirteen days of court ordered, cruel and unusual torture, for the crime of being a scientifically certified burden. I watched a mother denied access to her own child, armed with a glass of water. She was blocked by my fellow United States citizens, armed with the Nuremburg defense. It fills me with nausea.