Monday, March 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I suppose it was inevitable that I'd offer my own thoughts. I can't see how so many people say Terri Schiavo should die with dignity, when the only thing she needs to stay alive is a feeding tube. It's not like she's on life support, nor a "persistent vegetative state" like some claim. There are rehab patients who are in worst situations, yet their families want to keep them alive, hoping and praying for a miracle.

Michael Schiavo has recently said there's little left of the money awarded to Terri from the malpractice lawsuit. I personally believe that it has always been about money, and I suspect he's been rushing in the last few years because he knew that the award money would run out. Does he "need" Terri to die now so he can get money from any life insurance policy on her?

A couple of years ago, Michael always refused to comment on whether his wife has life insurance. Today, he states flatly he won't get any life insurance money. If he wouldn't (or couldn't comment) two years ago, why can he today?

Furthermore, I've read enough legalese to know that "I won't get any life insurance money" is not the same as "She doesn't have a life insurance policy." To my knowledge (and I'd like to be corrected if I'm in error), Michael has never specifically stated whether Terri has or had a life insurance policy. Did she have a policy, perhaps, and the insurance provider cancelled the policy?

On his radio show this afternoon, Sean Hannity played an audio tape of the sounds Terri makes. She sounds like someone severely brain damaged who is cognizant of her surroundings and trying to communicate. Hannity's guest, whose name I didn't get but Hannity introduced him as a doctor who's been considered for the Nobel, said Terri doesn't make these sounds reflexively, but in response to her father and others talking to her. These were not random sounds, at least to me. If anything, it reminds me of when my sister got in a car accident and had to have her broken jaw wired shut. She tried to talk but could only make unintelligible sounds -- like Terri.

Hannity made a very good point: the court is using hearsay to determine Terri's beliefs. Michael and his brother are the only two who have said Terri did not want to persist in this kind of state (though it's hardly vegetative!). Terri's family have said that Terri never said anything to them about that, and that Terri left nothing in writing that was corroborated by witnesses. A caller said that Terri's family would of course challenge Michael and his brother, because they have an agenda. Indeed -- and Michael has an agenda too.

Michael says he will donate any remaining money to charity, but is he also including any life insurance money? Michael has been offered $1 million to "walk away" and relinquish guardianship of Terri. He has refused, but I feel it's just to save face. Putting it in economic terms, the cost of eternal infamy is greater than $1 million. Were the offer, say, $100 million, I wouldn't be surprised if he accepted it. He could retire to the Caymans in anonymity.

I'm not saying, Michael, that you should or should not keep your wife's feeding tube in. What I will tell you is that the proper thing to do was divorce Terri before shacking up with another woman and having two children with her.

"In sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part." I guess Michael's vow was amended to include, "Except when you get brain-damaged."

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