A very interesting e-mail:
I’ve been listening to the BBC and NPR today — I confess, I’m basically a liberal but mostly I’m a political junkie and enjoy reading opinion from all over the spectrum.
In any case, what has struck me with the BBC and NPR is that there has been
no mention, zilch, about the actual disputes in this case: the fact that
there are some clear conflicts of interest surrounding Shaivo’s husband,
that the only evidence of her wishes regarding life support come from him,
and that there is medical disagreement about Terri’s condition and
prospects, with her husband having virtually prevented examination by any
but his own doctors and from attempting any rehabilitation. I’ve heard a
bit of discussion about the debate about her status, but quite literally
zero mention of the conflict of interest situation — the “fiancee”, the
money at stake, multiple affidavits attesting to Shciavo talking about what
he’ll buy with the money, etc.
Overall, I”m in the “right to die” camp; I’ve voted for Oregon’s assisted
suicide law twice.
But in this case it seems that debate isn’t over rights, but facts: what
were Terri’s wishes and what is her condition? It seems to me extremely
dangerous to establish a precedent that the next of kin alone can not only
make all decisions, supposedly based on a patient’s wishes and their medical
status, but, then also giving the next of kin sole right to announce what
those wishes were and to determine how the patient’s condition will be
determined. Given the obvious conflicts of interest that can arise over
inheritance, etc., such a system invites abuse.
While I usually think you conservatives are whining about “liberal bias”,
given how important the context is to understanding this case and given how
easy that information is to find, I can’t help suspecting that the fact that
this case came to national attention due to lobbying by the religious right
means that the “elite media” have automatically come down against it (even
though the “money grubbing husband wants to kill wife” theme would normally