Politics & Policy

Corner Extra: Frist On Terri Schiavo

This is the rough transcript of a speech delivered on the floor of the United States Senate on the night of March 17, 2004 by Majority Leader Bill Frist.

MR. PRESIDENT, IN CLOSING TONIGHT, I WANT TO TAKE A FEW FINAL MOMENTS TO SPEAK ON AN ISSUE THAT I OPENED WITH EARLIER THIS MORNING, NOW ABOUT 12 -14 HOURS AGO AND AN ISSUE WHICH SENATORS MARTINEZ AND SANTORUM WERE JUST ON THE FLOOR SPEAK TO ABOUT 45 MINUTES AGO AND IT HAS TO DO WITH THE TERRY SCHIAVO CASE IN FLORIDA. I’D LIKE TO CLOSE THIS EVENING SPEAKING MORE AS A PHYSICIAN THAN AS A UNITED STATES SENATOR AND REALLY SPEAK TO MY INVOLVEMENT AS A PHYSICIAN AND–AND AS A SENATOR AND AS LEADER IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN WHAT HAS BEEN A FASCINATING COURSE OF EVENTS FOR US OVER THE LAST 48 HOURS BUT A SAGA WHICH HAS NOT ENDED BUT ONE WHICH WE TOOK MAJOR STEPS TOWARD TONIGHT AND SEEING THAT THIS WOMAN IS NOT STARVED TO DEATH TOMORROW BEGINNING AT 1:00, ABOUT 13 HOURS FROM NOW.

WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE SITUATION FACING TERRY SCHIAVO, I IMMEDIATELY WANTED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE CASE FROM A MEDICAL STANDPOINT. I ASKED MYSELF, JUST LOOKING AT THE NEWSPAPER REPORTS, IS TERRY CLEARLY IN THIS DIAGNOSIS CALLED PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE? I WAS INTERESTED IN IT IN PART BECAUSE IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT DIAGNOSIS TO MAKE AND I’VE BEEN IN A SITUATION SUCH AS THIS MANY, MANY TIMES BEFORE AS A TRANDZ PLANT SURGEON. WHEN WE DO HEART TRANSPLANTS AND LUNG TRANSPLANTS, WHICH THEY ARE DONE ROUTINELY AND THEY’RE DONE ROUTINELY AT THE TRANSPLANT CENTER THAT I DIRECTED AT VANDERBILT.

IN EACH AND EVERY CASE, WHEN YOU DO A HEART TRANSPLANT OR A LUNG TRANSPLANT OR A HEART-LUNG TRANSPLANT, THE TRANSPLANTED ORGANS COME FROM SOMEONE WHO IS BRAIN DEAD AND DEATH IS CLEARLY DEFINED WITH A SERIES OF STANDARDIZED CLINICAL EXAMS OVER A PERIOD OF TIME AS WELL AS DIAGNOSTIC TESTS. IT–EVEN BRAIN DEATH IS A DIFFICULT DIAGNOSIS TO MAKE AND SHORT OF BRAIN DEATH, THERE ARE STAGES OF INCAPACITATION THAT GO FROM COMA TO THIS PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE TO A MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS STATE, AND THEY’RE TOUGH DIE NOTICE SEES TO–DIAGNOSIS TO MAKE. YOU CAN MAKE BRAIN DEATH WITH CERTAINTY, BUT SHORT OF THAT, IT’S A DIFFICULT DIAGNOSIS AND ONE THAT TAKES A SERIES OF EVALUATIONS OVER A PERIOD OF TIME BECAUSE OF FLUCTUATING CONSCIOUSNESS. AND SO I WAS A LITTLE BIT SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT A DECISION HAD BEEN MADE TO STARVE TO DEATH A WOMAN BASED ON A CLINICAL EXAM THAT TOOK PLACE OVER A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME BY A NEUROLOGIST WHO WAS CALLED IN TO MAKE THE DIAGNOSIS RATHER THAN OVER A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME. IT’S ALMOST UNHEARD OF. AND SO THAT RAISED THE FIRST QUESTION IN MY MIND.

I ASKED MYSELF: DOES TERRY CLEARLY HAVE NO HOPE OF BEING REHABILITATED OR IMPROVED IN–IN ANY WAY? AND IF YOU ARE IN A TRUE PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE, THAT MAYBE THE CASE. BUT AGAIN, IT’S VERY TOUGH DIAGNOSIS TO MAKE, AND ONLY BY PUTTING FORTH THAT REHABILITATIVE THERAPY AND FOLLOWING OVER TIME DO YOU KNOW IF SOMEBODY’S GOING TO IMPROVE. AND AT LEAST FROM THE REPORTING THAT WAS BEING DONE, THAT HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE. AND THEN I ASKED MYSELF, BECAUSE WE HAVE LIVING WILLS NOW AND WE HAVE WRITTEN DIRECTIVES WHICH ARE VERY COMMONPLACE NOW. BUT TEN YEARS AGO THEY WEREN’T THAT COMMON. AND TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, A LOT OF 20- AND 30-YEAR-OLDS DON’T THINK ABOUT THEIR OWN MORTALITY AND DON’T OFFER THOSE WRITTEN AND THEY DIDN’T TEN YEARS AGO. NOW THEY DO WITH INCREASING FREQUENCY, AND I ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO DO THAT.

SO I ASKED, DOES SHE HAVE A WRITTEN DIRECTIVE OR DID SHE AT THE TIME? AND THE ANSWER WAS NO. AND DID SHE HAVE A CLEAR-CUT ORAL DIRECTIVE, AND THE ANSWER WAS–WAS NO.

SO THAT MY CURIOSITY PIQUED SO I ASKED TO SEE ALL OF THE COURT AFFIDAVITS AND I RECEIVED THOSE COURT AFFIDAVITS AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO READ THROUGH THOSE OVER THE LAST 48 HOURS.

AND MY CURIOSITY WAS PEAKED EVEN FURTHER BECAUSE OF WHAT SEEMED TO BE UNUSUAL ABOUT THE CASE, AND SO I CALLED ONE OF THE NEUROLOGISTS WHO DID EVALUATE HER AND EVALUATED HER MORE EXTENSIVELY THAN WHAT AT LEAST WAS ALLEGED OTHER NEUROLOGISTS HAD, AND HE TOLD ME VERY DIRECTLY THAT SHE IS NOT IN A PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE, AND I SAID, WELL, GIVE ME A SPECTRUM FROM THIS NEUROLOGIST WHO EXAMINED HER, AND TO BE FAIR, HE EXAMINED HER ABOUT TWO YEARS AG AGO, AND TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, NO NEUROLOGIST HAS BEEN ABLE TO EXAMINE HER–I’M NOT POSITIVE ABOUT THAT BUT THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN TOLD IN RECENT TIEVMENTS BUT AT THAT TIME THAT CLEARLY SHE WAS NOT IN A PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE. AND OF 1 PATIENTS–AND OF 100 PATIENTS THIS NEUROLOGIST WOULD TAKE CARE OF, SHE WASN’T AT THE EXTREME END OF HER DISABILITY. SHE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE 70th, BUT NOT THE 80th, 90th OR 100th IN TERMS OF DEGREE OF DISABILITY. AND SO THEN I BECAME REALLY CURIOUS THAT A NEUROLOGIST WHO HAD SPENT TIME WITH HER, SAID SHE IS NOT IN A PERSISTENT VEJATATIVE STATE, YET SHE IS GOING TO BE STARVED TOMORROW BECAUSE OF WHAT ANOTHER NEUROLOGIST HAD SAID.

I TALKED TO HER FAMILY AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET HER SON, AND HER SON TOLD ME THAT SHE IS RESPONSIVE. SHE HAS A SEVERE DISABILITY, A LOT OF PEOPLE WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND DISABILITIES HAVE SEVERE DISABILITIES, HE FAY SHAS, RECEPTIVE AND SOMETIMES STARTLING, BUT HE SAID THAT–THIS IS HER BROTHER–NOT HER SON, BUT HER BROTHER–SAID THAT SHE RESPONDS TO HER PARENTS AND TO HIM. AND THAT IS NOT SOMEBODY IN PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE. I THEN MET WITH THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TWO DAYS AGO IN FLORIDA TO DISCUSS THE CASE, AND HE TOLD ME THAT THEY HAD EXHAUSTED ALL OPTIONS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA TO REVERSE WHAT WAS GOING TO BE INEVITABLE TOMORROW, FRIDAY, THE 18th OF MARCH, AND THAT IS THAT FEEDINGS AND HYDRATION WAS GOING TO STOP THAT EVERYTHING HAD BEEN EXHAUSTED. HE SAID THE COURTS HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED AND THAT ALL OF THE COURT DECISIONS AND THE COURT CASES HAD NOT BEEN BASED ON THE FACTS BECAUSE THE FACTS WERE VERY LIMITED AND WERE THE CONCLUSIONS OF ONE JUDGE, AND TWO NEUROLOGISTS AND THAT WAS IT. AND THAT THERE WERE, IN TERMS OF THE AFFIDAVITS, THERE WERE–AND I’LL GET THE EXACT NUMBER THAT I READ. THERE WAS SOMETHING LIKE 34 AFFIDAVITS FROM OTHER DOCTORS WHO SAID THAT SHE COULD BE IMPROVED WITH REHABILITATION.

SO THEN IT CAME TO, WHAT DO YOU DO? HERE IS–HERE IS THE UNITED STATES SENATE, WHO NORMALLY DOES NOT AND SHOULD NOT GET INVOLVED IN ALL OF THE–THESE PRIVATE-ACTION CASES. IT’S NOT OUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY HERE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, BUT WITH AN EXHAUSTION OF STATE LEGISLATURE, EXHAUSTION OF THE COURT SYSTEM IN A STATE, YET ALL OF THIS IS BASED ON WHAT ONE–ONE JUDGE HAD DECIDED ON WHAT AT LEAST INITIALLY TO ME LOOKS LIKE WRONG DATA, INCOMPLETE DATA, BUT SOMEBODY IS BEING CONDEMNED TO DEATH, SOMEBODY WHO’S ALIVE–THERE’S NO QUESTION SHE’S ALIVE–IS BEING CONDEMNED TO DEATH. IT TAKES AN ACTION TO PULL OUT A FEEDING TUBE. IT TAKES AN ACTION TO STOP FEEDING. THE INACTION OF FEEDING BECOMES AN ACTION. AND, THUS,

AS I STARTED TALKING ABOUT IT THIS MORNING, THE QUESTION WAS WHAT DO WE DO? BILLS HAVE BEEN PUT FORTH BROADLY ON THE FLOOR AND SENATOR MARTINEZ HAD VERY EFFECTIVE LEGISLATION BUT IT HAD TO DO WITH HABEAS CORPUS, A VERY LARGE ISSUE THAT WE HAVEN’T HAD HEARINGS ON AND DEBATED.

SO WHAT WE’VE DECIDED TO DO IS TO FASHION A BILL THAT WAS VERY NARROW, AIMED SPECIFICALLY AT THIS CASE THAT WOULD SAY SHE’S NOT GOING TO BE STARVED TO DEATH TOMORROW BUT LET’S GO AND COLLECT MORE INFORMATION, HAVE NEUROLOGISTS COME IN AND OBTAIN A BODY OF FACTS BEFORE SUCH A DECISION WOULD BE MADE. THAT’S WHAT WE’VE DONE, AS SENATOR MARTINEZ SAID AND SENATOR SANTORUM SAID. WE’RE NOT THERE YET. WE’VE GOT THREE DIFFERENT TRACKS GOING ON. IT’LL BE GOING ON OVER THE COURSE OF TONIGHT. IN MY OFFICE RIGHT NOW LETTERS ARE BEING WRITTEN AND BEING SENT OUT AND WE’LL NOT GIVE UP. WE’VE GOT GIVEN UP. WE’VE PASSED THE BILL HERE TONIGHT. THE HOUSE HAS A BILL AND I’M CONFIDENT IF WE CONTINUE WORKING–WE’RE GOING TO STAY IN SESSION UNTIL WE COMPLETE ACTION.

LET ME JUST COMMENT A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE TERRY SCHIAVO CASE BECAUSE WHAT I SAID IS HOW WE GOT INVOLVED AND WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY IS A LITTLE BIT MORE INFORMATION THAN WHAT WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO TALK ABOUT ON THE FLOOR TODAY BECAUSE OF THE FOCUS ON THE BUDGET COMMITTEE, ALTHOUGH WHEN WE’RE JUST OFF THE FLOOR IN THE CLOAKROOM BEHIND ME AND IN MY OFFICE, WE’VE BEEN GOING NONSTOP ON THIS ALL DAY LONG. ALL DAY LONG. TERRY SCHIAVO IS RIGHT NOI NOW IN A FLORIDA HOSPICE. SHE IS BREATHING ON HER OWN. SHE’S NOT ON A VENTILATOR. SHE’S BROAJ ON HER OWN. SHE IS NOT A TERMINAL CASE. SHE IS, AS I SAID, DISABLED. UNDER COURT ORDER, THIS FEEDING TUBE WAS TO BE REMOVED TOMORROW IN ABOUT 14 HOURS FROM NOW, AS I MENTIONED. WHEN HER FEEDING TUBE IS REMOVED, SHE DOES NOT RECEIVE FOOD, SHE STARVES TO DEATH AND HER–SHE HAS NO HYDRATION AND SHE BECOMES DEHYDRATED, HAS CARDIOVASCULAR COLLAPSE, THE HEART WOULD NO LONGER WORK OVER TIME AND OF COURSE SHE WOULD DIE.

HER PARENTS, BOB AND MARY SCHINDLER, HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR OVER TEN YEARS TO PREVENT HER DEATH. IMAGINE IF YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE, AND YOU HAD A DAUGHTER, AND YOU SAID, DON’T LET HER DIE. I’LL–WE WILL TAKE CARE OF HER. WE WILL FINANCIALLY TAKE CARE OF HER. HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU HAVE SOMEBODY COME IN AND REMOVE A FEEDING TUBE? AND THAT’S WHAT THEY’VE BEEN TAIG SAYING FOR TEN YEARS. THEY LOVE HER. THEY SAY THAT SHE RESPONDS TO HER. THEY WOULD WELCOME THE CHANCE, WELCOME THE CHANCE, TO BE HER GUARDIAN. AS I UNDERSTAND IT, TERRY’S HUSBAND WILL NOT DIVORCE TERRY AND WILL NOT ALLOW HER PARENTS TO TAKE CARE OF HER. TERRY’S HUSBAND, WHO I’VE NOT MET, DOES HAVE A GIRLFRIEND THAT HE LIVES WITH AND THEY HAVE CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN. THE SINGLE FLORIDA JUDGE RULED THAT TERRY IS IN THIS PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE AND THIS IS THE SAME JUDGE THAT HAS DENIED NEW TESTING, NEW EXAMINATIONS OF TERRY BY INDEPENDENT AND QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS. THEY’VE NOT BEEN ALLOWED. AS I MENTIONED, THE ATTORNEY FOR TERRY’S PARENTS HAVE SUBMITTED 33 AFFIDAVITS FROM DOCTORS IN AND OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, ALL OF WHOM SAY THAT TERRY SHOULD BE REEVALUATED.

ABOUT 15 DISISH READ THROUGH THE AFFIDAVITS. EITHER 14 OR 15 OF THESE AFFIDAVITS ARE FROM BOARD-CERTIFIED NEUROLOGISTS. SOME OF THESE DOCTORS, VERY SPECIFICALLY SAY THEY BELIEVE ON THE DATA THAT THEY HAD SEEN THAT TERRY COULD BENEFIT FROM THERAPY. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY COMMENTS THAT HER LEGAL GUARDIAN–THAT’S TERRY’S HUSBAND–HAS NOT–IT IS EITHER HE HAS NOT BEEN AGGRESSIVE TO REHABILITATION, TO OTHER REPORTS THAT SAY THAT HE HAS THWARTED REHABILITATION SINCE 1992. I CAN ONLY REPORT WHAT I HAVE READ THERE BECAUSE I HAVEN’T MET–MET HIM. PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE, WHICH IS WHAT THE COURT HAS RULED–I SAY THAT I QUESTION IT. I QUESTION IT BASED ON A REVIEW OF THE VIDEO FOOTAGE WHICH I SPENT AN HOUR OR SO LOOKING AT LAST NIGHT IN MY OFFICE HERE IN THE CAPITOL. AND THAT FOOTAGE, TO ME, DEPICTS SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT THAN PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE.

ONE OF THE CLASSIC TEXTBOOKS THAT WE USE IN MEDICINE TODAY IS CALLED “HARRISON’S PRINCIPLES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE.” AND IN THE 16th EDITION, WHICH WAS PUBLISHED JUST THIS YEAR, 2005, ON PAGE 1625, IT READS, “THE VEGETATIVE STATE SIGNIFIES AN AWAKE BUT UNRESPONSIVE STATE. THESE PATIENTS HAVE EMERGED FROM COMA AFTER A PERIOD OF DAYS OR WEEKS TO AN UNRESPONSIVE STATE IN WHICH THE EYELIDS ARE OPEN, GIVING THE APPEARANCE OF WAKEFULNESS.” CLOSE QUOTATION. FROM THE–FROM “HARRISON’S PRINCIPLES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE.” THIS UNRESPONSIVE STATE IN WHICH THE EYELIDS ARE OPEN–I QUOTE THAT ONLY BECAUSE ON THE VIDEO FOOTAGE, WHICH IS THE ACTUAL EXAMINE EXAM BY THE NEUROLOGIST, WHEN THE NEUROLOGIST SAID, LOOK, THERE’S NO QUESTION IN THE VIDEO THAT SHE ACTUALLY LOOKS UP. THAT WOULD NOT BE AN UNRESPONSIVE STATE IN WHICH THE EYELIDS ARE OPEN. SKIPPING ON DOWN INTO WHAT THE “HARRISON’S” TEXAS BOOK SAYS ABOUT VEGETATIVE STATE, “THERE ARE ALWAYS ACCOMPANYING SIGNS THAT INDICATE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE IN BOTH THE CEREBRAL HEMISPHERE, FOR EXAMPLE, DECEREBRIT LIMB POSTURING AND ABSENT RESPONSES TO VISUAL STIMULI.” CLOSE QUOTATION AND THEN LET ME JUST COMMENT BECAUSE HE SAID “ABSENT RESPONSES TO VISUAL STIMULI.” ONCE AGAIN IN THE VIDEO FOOTAGE, WHICH YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEASON A WEB SITE TODAY, BUT IN THE VIDEO FOOTAGE, SHE CERTAINLY SEEMS TO RESPOND TO VISUAL STIMULI. THAT THE NEUROLOGIST PUTS FORTH.

AND LASTLY, AND I’LL STOP QUOTING FROM THE CLASSIC INTERNAL MEDICINE TEXTBOOK, BUT ONE LAST SENTENCE, “IN THE CLOSELY RELATED, MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS STATE, THE PATIENT MAY MAKE INTERMITTENT, RUDIMENTARY VOCAL AND MOTOR RESPONSES.” PERIOD, CLOSE QUOTATION.

I WOULD SIMPLY ASK, A MAYBE SHE IS A NOT IN THIS VEGETATIVE STATE AND SHE’S IN THIS MINIMALLY CONSCIOUS STATE. IN WHICH CASE THE DIAGNOSIS UPON WHICH THIS WHOLE CASE HAS BEEN BASED WOULD BE INCORRECT. 15 NEUROLOGISTS HAVE SIGNED AFFIDAVITS THAT TERRY SHOULD HAVE ADDITIONAL TESTING BY UNBIASED, INDEPENDENT NEUROLOGISTS. I’M TOLD THAT TERRY NEVER HAD AN M.R.I. OR A P.E.T. SCAN OF HER HEAD. AND THAT DISTURBS ME ONLY BECAUSE IT SUGGESTS THAT SHE HASN’T BEEN FULLY EVALUATED BY TODAY’S STANDARDS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE AN M.R.I. SCANG FOR A PET SCAN TO THE DIAGNOSIS OF A VEGETATIVE STATE. BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO PUT SOMEBODY TO DEATH I WOULD THINK YOU WOULD WANT A COMPLETE NEUROLOGICAL EXAM IN REACHING THAT CONCLUSION. THE FACT–THIS IS WHAT I’M TOLD IS THAT SHE DIDN’T HAVE AN M.R.I. OR P.E.T. SCAN–WOULD SUGGEST THAT SHE HAS NOT HAD A FULL NEUROLOGICAL EXAM. I SHOULD ALSO NOTE THAT THE COURT HAS SIDED WITH THE TESTIMONY OF DR. RONALD CRAMFORD WHO IS AN OUTSPOKEN ADVOCATE OF PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE. ONE–LET ME CITE ONE OTHER STUDY. IN 1996 BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL STUDY CONDUCTED AT ENGLAND’S ROYAL HOSPITAL FOR NEURODISABILITY CONCLUDED THAT THERE WAS A 43% ERROR RATE IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF P.V.S. IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME, AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, TO MAKE THIS DIAGNOSIS WITH A VERY HIGH ERROR RATE. IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE CAUSING SOMEBODY TO DIE WITH PURPOSEFUL ACTION, WITHDRAWAL OF A FEEDING TUBE, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WANT TO MAKE A MISTAKE IN TERMS OF THE DIAGNOSIS.

I MENTIONED THAT TERRY’S BROTHER TOLD ME THAT TERRY LAUGHS, SMILES, AND TRIES TO SPEAK. DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A WOMAN IN PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE. SO OUR–CONGRESS HAS ACTED TONIGHT AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ACTED LAST NIGHT. THE APPROACHES ARE A BIT DIFFERENT AND OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT–WORKING BOTH TONIGHT AND TOMORROW, I HOPE THAT WE CAN RESOLVE THOSE DIFFERENCES.

IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT CONGRESS HAS A RESPONSIBILITY SINCE OTHER ASPECTS OF GOVERNMENT AT THE STATE LEVEL HAVE FAILED TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE, THAT WE DO HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY, GIVEN THE UNCERTAINTIES WHICH I’VE OUTLINED OVER THE LAST FEW MINUTES, AND, REMEMBER, SHE HAS FAMILY MEMBERS, HER PARENTS AND BROTHER–OR SON–BROTHER, WHO SAY THEY LOVE HER, THEY’LL TAKE CARE OF HER, THIS’LL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HER AND THEY WILL SUPPORT HER. THERE JUST SEEMS TO BE INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO CONCLUDE THAT TERRY SCHIAVO IS PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE, SECURING THE FACTS I BELIEVE IS THE FIRST AND PROPER STEP AT THIS JUNCTURE. WHOEVER DOES SPEND TIME MAKING THE DIAGNOSIS WITH TERRY DOES NEED TO SPEND ENOUGH TIME TO MAKE AN APPROPRIATE DIAGNOSIS.

AT THIS JUNCTURE, I DON’T SEE ANY JUSTIFICATION IN REMOVAL HYDRATION AND NUTRITION. PRUDENCE AND CAUTION AND RESPECT FOR THE DIGNITY OF LIFE MUST BE THE UNDERGIRDING PRINCIPLES IN THIS CASE.

LET ME CLOSE WITH AN E-MAIL THAT I RECEIVED, A FRIEND OF MINE SENT ME THIS E-MAIL ONCE THEY SAW THAT WE WERE PERSONALLY–OR WE AS A BODY WERE INVOLVED IN THIS CASE. AND THE E-MAIL READS: “I KNOW YOU ARE DEALING WITH SO MANY MAJOR ISSUES BUT I BELIEVE THIS ONE THREATENS TO SEND US DOWN ANOTHER SHAMEFUL PATH WE MAY NEVER RECOVER FROM. I DON’T THINK I EVER HAD AN OCCASION TO TELL YOU THAT I HAVE A SEVERELY BRAIN DAMAGED ADULT DAUGHTER THAT I CARED FOR IN MY HOME FOR 20 YEARS. SASHA’S FUNCTIONING LEVEL IS FAR BELOW TERRY’S BUT SHE’S BEEN SUCH A BLESSING IN MY LIFE. DITRICH BONOFFER SAID NOT ONLY DO THE WEAK NEED THE STRONG BUT THE STRONG NEED THE WEAK. IT’S HARD TO SNRAIN IN A DAY AND AGE WHERE PHYSICAL PERFECTION IS SO HIGHLY VALUED BUT I KNOW IT TO BE TRUE. SENATOR FRIST, AS YOU FIGHT THIS BATTLE TODAY, HOLD FAST. IF EVER THE WEAK NEEDED A CHAMPION, IT IS NOW. ON BEHALF OF MY SWEET SASHA,” AND THEN THE EMAIL IS SIGNED. SO I CLOSE TONIGHT WITH THOSE WORDS–POWERFUL WORDS.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

Most Popular

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Might Be Winning

I’m far too dumb to be able to shed any light on polls, but I do know something about celebrity and I think I can guarantee this: If President Trump wins re-election, Robert Cahaly is going to become very famous very quickly. Who is Robert Cahaly? The chief pollster for the Trafalgar Group, the only major ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More

Trump: Yes

Editor’s Note: The following is one of three essays, each from a different perspective, in the latest edition of National Review on the question of whether to vote for President Trump. The views below reflect those of the individual author, not of the NR editorial board as a whole. The other two essays can be ... Read More