The Corner

Schiavo: a “Right to Die” Liberal Observes

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

have appeal).

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