Monday, March 21, 2005

Schiavo Thoughts

CNN reports that the House has just passed a bill authorizing federal courts to reinsert a feeding tube into Terry Schiavo while Court cases are pending. My own thoughts are very similar to Ross Douthat of The American Scene: Since there is someone willing to take care of Terry (her parents), and her husband could get a divorce easily enough, we should default to prolonging her life in absence of clear proof showing that she would not want to be kept in such a state (IE, a living will). I do agree with Will Baude's admonishment that we should consider the wishes of the dead or dying--and indeed, if Schiavo had put down, on paper, that she did not want to live in such conditions I'd support her being removed from the feeding tube. But with the evidence unclear, I think we should err on the side of keeping her alive. That seems to be the path dictated by the precautionary principle and the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." Baude is right that completely ignoring the clear wishes of a suffering patient is a harm. However, I think in this case it is still speculative, versus the very real harm of having her dead.

Incidentally, I just saw former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman on "Real Time With Bill Maher." She very, very briefly, so quickly you might have missed it, registered her opposition to the GOP's use of a Congressional subpoena to keep Schiavo alive (which is different than the bill just passed). From the context of her statement, it was impossible to tell whether she opposed just that procedural tactic, or whether she felt that in general Schiavo should be allowed to die. If it's the former, I agree with her, the use of a subpoena here is way beyond the scope of congressional powers. If it's the latter, I obviously disagree as noted above.

Sorry for the paucity of blogging lately. I've been very, very stressed out. Hopefully I'll get back on track soon. In case y'all care, my latest debate column is out on Victory Briefs, though you probably won't get the references unless you have some relation to HS debate.

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