Monday, March 21, 2005

Grotesque decision

On Saturday morning I had written a post on Terri Schiavo. I referred to the decision to remove her feeding tube as more shameful for America than Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay or any execution in a state prison. It was a grotesque decision to order that this woman be denied food and water.

It seems so patently obvious to me that, although her life is not what it was, she is still alive and still a human being. Of course if she's denied food and water she'll die in a week or two. So would I. So would you. That's not dying with dignity. That's murder. Anyone who killed a dog by denying it food and water would be charged with a crime.

If people like Andrew Sullivan want to talk about death with dignity, then why don't they call for Mrs. Schiavo to be given a lethal injection? That would be more humane than death by dehydration. The reason they don't is because that would be murder, but so is denying nourishment to someone.
A conscious [cognitively disabled] person would feel it just as you or I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucus membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water! Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death.
Thankfully Congress and the President have acted and there's some hope that Terry Schiavo will not be murdered by her husband and the Florida State Supreme Court.