Monday, November 19, 2007

Terri Schiavo Revisited

Today, Michelle Malkin linked an article by the pro-life website LifeNews. The article chastised both ABC News and the NYT for mischaracterizing Terri Schiavo's condition as "brain-dead" during her final years of life. As it turns out, the NYT did correct their article. which now states:
"...ultimately, an autopsy showed she had severe, irreversible brain damage."
Although google doesn't generally store cached versions of copyrighted news articles, the google link does quote this line as using the completely erroneous term brain-dead.
As down as I am on the NYT, I believe this was an honest mistake by a reporter who was clearly not well-versed in the science.

Brain-death is one standard for defining death (there are several). It generally implies that an electroencephalogram (EEG) shows no brain activity. As such, it is a rather objective definition which Schiavo clearly did not fulfill until she in fact died. I can't say how ABC News responded to this mistake but the NYT certainly rectified it.

My concern is that the revised version will still not be acceptable to Terri Schiavo's family. This, despite the fact that everything known about this woman's clinical condition points to its being factually correct.

Schiavo's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo apparently believes the following:
"If the media took the time to research Terri's case, perhaps they would understand that she was simply a woman living with a disability, just like the 50 million persons living with a disability in our country today."
Terri Schiavo was living in a persistent vegetative state. To call it a mere "disability" is to minimize the grave and essentially irreversible state of her condition. She was not a sentient being. If you'd like more information, try this link for an in depth discussion I wrote on the subject.

Vitadamo also described the withholding of nasogastric feedings as "killing" her. She sidesteps the fact that countless judicial rulings on multiple levels concluded both that this was Schiavo's wish as interpreted by her husband and that it was a legal one. Similar decisions are made by families on behalf of their gravely ill loved ones every hour of every day of the year.

Terri Schiavo was not killed. Nature was finally allowed to take its course.

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