Terri Chiavo: Murdered or Not?

Since it is against the law to murder, and refraining from feeding an incapable person leads to murder, anyone who refrains from feeding an incapable person is committing murder, or are they? In 1990 a controversy came to be on that very

subject. A woman named Terri Schiavo suffered from severe brain damage after a heart attack in 1990. The heart attack left her incapable of caring for herself, so doctors gave her a feeding tube to supply her with the nutrients and fluids she needed to survive. For 15 years Terri remained on the feeding tube and her situation did not improve. Around the 10th year, her husband, Michael Schiavo, asked the courts in Florida to allow the doctors to remove the feeding tube, letting Terri die naturally, or in other words, starve to death. After 5 years of debate, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to remove Terri’s only life source. Many controversies have arisen from this act; was it wrong to keep someone living when that person seemed to have no hope of recovery? Or was it right to allow someone incapable of feeding themselves to be starved to death? The legality and justice of the situation was in the hands of the Supreme Court, but was their decision right? The expediency and the practicability of the situation may have seemed right in the eyes of Mr. Schiavo, but was it what Terri wanted? Finally, was it decent of the U.S. Supreme Court to carry out Mr. Schiavo’s wishes, and what were the consequences of what happened in this act?

Our law states that it is against the law to murder another human being. One would think that removing a feeding tube from a still conscious person would be murder, but in the case of Terri Schiavo the turn out was otherwise. Terri was in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, but family members stated that she could primitively respond by smiling when she saw someone she recognized. This would mean that Terri’s brain was still functioning, and that would mean that she was conscious. However, Terri could not swallow or chew food, thus the need for a feeding tube. Now, was it considered legal, or murder when the Supreme Court allowed doctors to remove a conscious person’s only source of food and water? The law said it was legal, even though many people protested against it.

After Terri Schiavo died, the medical staff and court justices who allowed the feeding tube to be removed did not want to be associated in the act in anyway. This means that they must have seen the injustice in deed that they did, however they did not speak up before it was too late.

The debate over what to do with Terri Schiavo lasted for about 7 years. Michael Schiavo appealed his case to all of Florida’s courts until they decided the appeal was too great for them to deal with. The U.S. Supreme Court was the last court to consider the appeal for the removal of Terri’s feeding tube, and they favored it. At 11:05 on Friday, March 18th, 2005 the Supreme Court made their final decision and the feeding tube was removed 40 minutes later.

It may seem practicable to allow someone who has been in a coma, unconscious to the world and their surroundings for 15 years finally pass away, but Terri Schiavo was not in a coma or unconscious to the world or her surroundings. Her parents told the press and anyone else that they could reach that their daughter would smile at people she recognized and would blink to mean “yes” or “no” as a response to questions. They even smuggled in a video camera to give evidence to back up their claim. If all this was true, then it was not practicable to remove Terri Schiavo’s life source.

Mr. Schiavo decided to let his wife go because he “wanted her to die peacefully”. If peacefully means starving to death for 14 days, then his intentions were perfectly clear. Family members reported that Michael Schiavo found a new girlfriend during his wife’s 15 years of not being able to live on her own. This was probably his true reason for wanting his wife to “die of natural causes”. If the court favored this indecent proposal, then they too are indecent.

The main consequence of this event is quite obvious; a life was lost. Terri Schiavo could reportedly respond primitively, although she could not feed herself or live on her own. The U.S. Supreme Court, the doctors who partook in the removal of the tube, and Mr. Schiavo all have suffered the consequence of giving themselves a bad name among the people of America.

This heinous crime against an innocent human being has not only given the court, and the doctors who partook in this deed a bad name, but it also has instilled uncertainty in the country of America. Now there is uncertainty in the hearts of Americans in how well our medical staff and courts can handle life or death situations that arise in our communities. The doctors and legal members who allowed this appeal to take place should be punished.

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