Monday, March 21, 2005

schiavesteia and living wills

This e-mail was written after a crazy weekend in which Congress rushed to pass a new law allowing Terri Schiavo's parents to bring her case to a federal court, rather than the state courts which had denied all of their motions to restore feeding tubes. President Bush flew to Washington from a vacation on his ranch in Crawford, Texas to sign the bill in his pajamas at 1 am Monday morning.

I'm not sure what to think about the substance of this whole Terry Schiavo thing, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't belong in the US Congress. Don't these guys have some designated hitter's drug habits to debate? I'm sorry that we don't have any modern Euripides or Sophocles, because I'm sure this case would make a great Greek tragedy cycle, complete with split chorus of Congresspeople.

More importantly, though, do any of you know how to write a living will, in case something unforeseen happens? What kinds of instructions should you include, or should you just delegate responsibility for medical decisions to a certain person or people? And do you distribute copies to all your family members or something? It seems kind of macabre to have to keep a notebook of what to do in case each of your friends and family members becomes a vegetable, but I guess it beats having Bill Frist decide.

Elliot Zaret, my brother-in-law, responded:

It's all prestidigitation to distract us from their destroying social security, pilfering the environment, mismanaging a war, ramrodding radical judges in, destroying the economy and so on. If this doesn't work they'll just start jingling their keys or holding up shiny pieces of paper and saying "pretty!!!"

Ernest Heller, my dad, responded:

The Living Will can be picked up at an office supply store or ordered on the Internet. It is not very difficult and it is too bad the lady in Florida didn't do it and spare her husband and the legal system a whole lot of grief. This case is filled with irony. The Republicans are defenders of marriage and totally opposed to government intruding into family life, with the single and undefendable exception of abortion and right to die. The Republicans are also fond of defending the right of states to resist federal intrusion into those matters not specifically delegated to Congress. Here they are, trouncing on states' rights. It will be interesting to see what a federal judge does with the parents' petition. Although Congress has given the federal court "jurisdiction" to consider the matter, what legal basis will the parents have to obtain any relief? All issues of law seem to have been resolved in the husband's favor. The judge could easily rule that he has the power to take action, but no legal grounds to take action. Aren't you glad you didn't go to law school?

I guess Dad had it right - the courts continued to deny the Schindlers' appeals, and Terri remained off the feeding tube.

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