On Terri Schiavo and Advancing Technology

by on March 25, 2005 · 8 comments

The high-profile battle over the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube is about more than one woman’s life. It is the beginning of an important dialogue on American views about life while science and technology progress at rapid speed.

To read more, see my column here. This is an incredibly important issue for transhumanists and others who value somatic choice.

  • http://www.geekgirl2.com/musingsandephemera/ geekgirl2

    You’re correct that this is important case. The implications are significant in that this will become the case upon which future disputes of a similar nature are decided. The scariest thing is that Terry Schiavo will continue to live if she gets food, water & basic care. This is dissimilar to a situation with a person on life support, where a machine is breathing for the person. This is a living person (admittedly with poor quality of life) who just needs basic care. Also she seems to have family members willing to provide the care. There is a line between keeping someone alive artificially and killing someone because we think that there quality of life is poor. Clearly the US has crossed that line now. Who gets to choose who dies next?

  • http://www.geekgirl2.com/musingsandephemera/ geekgirl2

    You’re correct that this is important case. The implications are significant in that this will become the case upon which future disputes of a similar nature are decided. The scariest thing is that Terry Schiavo will continue to live if she gets food, water & basic care. This is dissimilar to a situation with a person on life support, where a machine is breathing for the person. This is a living person (admittedly with poor quality of life) who just needs basic care. Also she seems to have family members willing to provide the care. There is a line between keeping someone alive artificially and killing someone because we think that there quality of life is poor. Clearly the US has crossed that line now. Who gets to choose who dies next?

  • Walter E. Wallis

    You have joined the taxidermists.

  • Walter E. Wallis

    You have joined the taxidermists.

  • James Gattuso

    Sonia — My non-expert read on the science here is much different. We should be careful not to conclude from a few eye movements that Schiavo is responding to stimuli. I’ve heard no credible expert say she can respond to stimuli in any way. In fact, I understand that, rather than just be damaged, her cerebral cortex is completely gone, replaced by spinal fluid. There’s nothing to regenerate. I feel for the parents, but I think they are really rejecting science for emotional appeal here.

    Regardless, the important point for policy here is that “society” should not be choosing life or death here, as you say. That should be up to individuals, or their guardians acting in their interests. The role of the courts should be limited to determination of the guardian, and review of such things as what the individual would have wanted. In the Schiavo case Congress and others are intervening in this private decision, to make it a societal (i.e. government) decision. That’s the scary part to me.

  • James Gattuso

    Sonia — My non-expert read on the science here is much different. We should be careful not to conclude from a few eye movements that Schiavo is responding to stimuli. I’ve heard no credible expert say she can respond to stimuli in any way. In fact, I understand that, rather than just be damaged, her cerebral cortex is completely gone, replaced by spinal fluid. There’s nothing to regenerate. I feel for the parents, but I think they are really rejecting science for emotional appeal here.

    Regardless, the important point for policy here is that “society” should not be choosing life or death here, as you say. That should be up to individuals, or their guardians acting in their interests. The role of the courts should be limited to determination of the guardian, and review of such things as what the individual would have wanted. In the Schiavo case Congress and others are intervening in this private decision, to make it a societal (i.e. government) decision. That’s the scary part to me.

  • http://www.freewebtown.com/dikapro Jagger Schubert

    Colombia’s vice president is "baffled" by Kate Moss’s success following cocaine allegations…

  • http://www.freewebtown.com/dikapro Jagger Schubert

    Colombia’s vice president is "baffled" by Kate Moss’s success following cocaine allegations…

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