Human Exceptionalism

Today is “Terri’s Day:” The Fourth Anniversary of the Death of Terri Schiavo

Today is “Terri’s Day.” It is the fourth anniversary of the end of Terri Schiavo’s ordeal of death by dehydration. This cruel end was not a necessary death. It was forced upon her by judicial fiat even though she was not terminally ill, did not require a respirator or kidney dialysis, and had a loving family eager to care for her for the rest of her natural life.

Terri’s family believed and believes that she knew when they visited and reacted with joy. But even if she was unaware, she remained a beloved daughter and sister, fully worthy of life and care.

The Schindler family has marked this sad day with the following statement:

Four Years Ago Today, Terri Schiavo Dies After Almost Two Weeks Without Food or Water.

Four years ago today Terri Schiavo died. By the order of Judge George W. Greer, Terri died a slow barbaric death by starvation and dehydration over a period of almost two weeks. We have been posting stories of the events that occurred on each of those days not only in respect for Terri’s memory, but a reminder that in this moment countless people are suffering slow, agonizing deaths in hospice, nursing homes, and hospitals in America and around the world.

I wish that Terri’s death had convinced people that dehydration is wrong–at least when it has not been explicitly and knowingly requested in writing by the patient ahead of time. Alas, it does not appear to be so. But we can say this: Nobody can ever say again about the dehydration deaths that are happening in all fifty states and around the world as you read these words, “I didn’t know.” I believe we are all morally accountable for the positions we take on this important ethical issue.


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