Monday, March 21, 2005

Politics: the Dean dilemma (on Terry Schiavo)

Bo has a scathing but fair post on Howard Dean and the DNC's inability to effectively deal with the Terry Schiavo situation.

I certainly take issue with his assertion that "the 'Democratic wing of the Democratic Party' (which Dean claims to represent) wants Schiavo to die." Terry Schiavo is already dead by any reasonable medical definition. Ask neurologists worth their salt, and they'll likely agree.

President Bush claims that:

In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.
If I represent the 'Democratic wing,' which I believe I do in this case, I don't reasonably believe there are serious questions or substantial doubts for a secular government. For better or worse, we do have legal definitions of death based on neurological definitions. Neurologists agree that Terry Schiavo in fact does fit those definitions (I'm having trouble finding the specific language of the Florida law to make my point, though I know I saw it in an article a few days ago).

I won't dare to be so presumptious as to say that the only valid definitions of life and death are neurologically based. Certainly cultural or religious ideas of metaphysical matters are at least as valid, and I don't question the passion or the wisdom of those who really do believe that Terry Schiavo is alive and that removing her feeding tube is akin to murder. I will certainly question their medical knowledge, however. The law is strictly unambiguous in the matter, and empirical evidence suggests a drastically different conclusion than is being reached by those who prefer to view life in strictly metaphysical terms.


Bo said...

All good points. I understand your issue with the term 'die'. I was trying to come up with a more succinct way of saying 'remove the feeding tube'.

My point in the post was actually more about Dean's new role than about the merits of the current legislation and legal decisions. Anyway, thanks for your reply. Take care.

Bo said...

So are you defending Dean somehow?

Garrett said...

Not particularly. I think your post was right on criticizing Dean as the sort of politician whose popularity is based on an impossible image that he is somehow an outsider who always does what he believes in. I still don't believe he is any sort of trainwreck (yet), but he's certainly can't be what Deaniacs think he is.

Kyle said...

I find maddening the logic of the right-to-life folks who want to equate the presence of any biological processes to be somehow the equivalent of "human life."

I've had ample time to think about what I would want, and I catagorically reject any attempts to sustain my corpse using invasive technologies, including feeding tubes.

Paging the Reverend Frankenstein...

Don't think so...

Anshu said...

I think Bush and company are doing the right thing by abstaining from further action at this point. He made a good point, something with the flavor of "When i don't know what the hell is going on, I'll swing towards keeping her alive."

There is little doubt that he has access to every piece of information concerning the medical status of Schiavo, and also interpretations of what that means, but he's playing it smart by simply helping in some capacity and then stepping back the rest of the way. To me, it shows some demonstration of the understanding that Schiavo is neurologically dead, a way-of-life very few of us would want to continue.