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Revisiting the Sciavo Case

Scott on June 15, 2005 at 1:13 pm

The whole “Terri Schiavo Case” fiasco was disheartening on so many levels based on how BOTH sides acted during the last few months of Terri’s life. While everything played out in the media and in the court of public opinion, I had my doubts and questions about her parents, AND about her ex-husband, AND about all the special interests that attached themselves to this case.

Now the Terri Schiavo autopsy results have been released and the truth of the matter is now available for the eyes of the world. – Autopsy: Schiavo Was Not Abused

Yes, I would have liked to have seen a completely independent panel do a thorough, out-in-the-open examination of Terri and her entire physical condition while she was alive. That way, questions could have been answered and doubts could have been calmed. Then all (or at least most) of the finger-pointing, name-calling, accusations, and declarations could have been put to rest in front of the world.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. The world was left to take sides and argue about things like the “right to die,” the “right to live,” “quality of life,” living wills and trusts, enduring power of attorney, DNRs (Do Not Resusitate orders), etc.

This was an important case because it set the tone for future discussions along these lines. Unfortunately the tone it set is a nasty one. Without the ability to openly and honestly discuss the Schiavo case and all its implications in light of the FACTS of the case, society was left to argue with itself as people chose sides and vilified those on the other side.

Things even got a little tense in my house because my wife and I were on opposite sides. Between the two “sides” (Terri’s parents and their supporters – vs – Michael and his supporters), I thought that it was Terri’s parents and their supporters and the various loud, VOCAL special interest advocates who came out looking the worst during the whole thing. They accused Michael Schiavo of anything and everything they could think of. They made completely outrageous claims about him and what type of person and husband he had been; and then they made even more outrageous claims about Terri and about what she was doing and saying while in the hospital, even though their claims flew in the face of nearly all of the expert opinions offered by medical specialists.

It now turns out that the bulk of all of the claims were completely without merit. The release of the autopsy today pointed a harsh, glaring light at the claims made during the months, weeks, and hours leading up to Terri’s death. There were no signs of physical abuse of any kind, either recent or in preceding years. There were no foreign substances found in her blood stream, nor were there high levels of naturally occuring substances. Michael Schaivo is in the clear in regards to the possibility that he had done something to his wife that caused her initial condition or had tried to hasten her death in the years following her collapse.

Also, doctors found that Terri’s brain had withered away to half the size of a normal brain, atrophying to the point that while she was in a vegetative state she was also, in fact, blind and mute and even possibly deaf. The centers of her brain dealing with vision and speech were completely destroyed by the years of deterioration. She could not have seen her parents or the balloons they waved in front of her eyes, and she could not have formulated speech, even the most basic words, because her brain did not have the capacity. So those who claimed that Terri could see and react to visual stimuli and who also claimed that she could speak were either mistaken or were lying.

In short, Terri’s brain was a wreck that could not function in any manner that would be considered consciousness.

I mentioned earlier that this case set the tone for further discussions. Unfortunately, because of how this whole thing was handled, people will be polarized for a very long time to come. They will be hesitant or even completely unwilling to have open and honest discussions about a very important and relevant subject. People have only been hurt by how this was handled, and people will be continue to be hurt because of the tone that this case set in our culture.

People who wanted Terri to be alive and to recover did whatever they could to make their case and to destroy the other side, including vilify, obfuscate, exaggerate, and even downright lie.

Now that the untruths, half-truths, exaggerations and the like have been uncovered, I will bet that none of those involved will admit to any wrong-doing or apologize for what they put Michael (and Terri) and society through. Society was damaged during the process of this sad story playing to its end, and it was damaged in the name of “saving” Terri Schiavo. Now it turns out the only ones needing saving were the rest of us. Terri was gone from this world long before her heart stopped beating. – Autopsy: Schiavo Was Not Abused

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