Truth Through Combat

The Schiavo Case and the Right to Die

The Terri Schiavo case gripped the U.S. for several months and took 15 years to resolve. Why did it take so long? What was at stake? What were the ethical issues involved in this case, and do all states deal with death as Florida dealt with it?

Documentation of the Schiavo case can be found here:

The case is also indicative of a broader trend all over the world to grant patients a right to die. Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, claimed repeatedly that Terri had told him that she did not want to live in a vegetative state. Several questions arise at this point:

  • Should a person be required to make his/her wishes about terminal treatment known in writing?
  • Should family members have the right to make decisions concerning the end-of-life care of their kin?
  • Does Oregon’s assisted suicide law go too far in granting a right to die? Should active voluntary euthanasia be legal? If so, what restrictions should apply to patients?
  • Has Holland gone too far with its euthanasia law? Does the recent finding about the passive involuntary euthanasia of infants prove that there is an unavoidable slippery slope when societies legalize forms of suicide?
  • Should passive (involuntary) euthanasia of minors with disabilities be legal in any case? Should it be legal to euthanize infants solely because of a handicap that is not immediately life-threatening?
  • How should nutrition and hydration be treated in end-of-life care? Given that patients have the right to refuse treatment (including food and water) should their relatives have the same right even if they do not know the wishes of the patient concerning nutrition and hydration support?

We’ll examine the arguments in response to all of these issues.

Filed under: Bioethics, Uncategorized

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