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Hey, Alanis: This is Ironic. Don’t ya Think?

My sister nearly slapped me for my heartlessness in pointing this out last night. Lucky for me, USA Today picked up on it, too.

Terri Schiavo, darling of the media, is in a vegetative state due to a heart malfunction resulting from a potassium imbalance. That potassium imbalance was the result of an eating disorder; the media won’t say for sure which one it was, but bulimia seems to be the favorite.

“…keeping the weight off was a struggle for Terri Schiavo, and years later after her heart stopped briefly, cutting off oxygen to the brain a malpractice case brought against a doctor on her behalf would reveal she had been trying to survive on liquids and was making herself throw up after meals. The Schiavos’ lawyer said her 1990 collapse was caused by a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder.”

“It is a cruel twist lost on no one close to the case: A woman who is said to have struggled with an eating disorder is now in the middle of a court battle over whether her feeding tube should be removed so that she can starve to death.”

Here’s the kicker: Had her heart not faltered, Schiavo probably would have died of starvation anyway. She had stopped having her period; this is one of the end stages of death by eating disorder.

My point: Why keep her feeding tube in and force feed her if she had made the choice years ago to starve herself? Isn’t starving to death what she had planned on doing? Plus, this malpractice suit that is briefly mentioned by the media is a complete breach of patient confideniality. But that’s another blogging for another time.

  1. Clint T. says:

    Yea, no big deal. I personally liked how she pulled the trifecta with her last post.. the-momma-joke, the-you’re-nobody-joke, and the-you’re-not-3l33t-joke. Hey, if you don’t know HTML.. then you might have a life outside of websites!

    I mean, that took some serious brainpower.. or just incredible amounts of frustration.. you pick which one.

    Hey Mel, just put the goddamn issue online already, damnit.

  2. Melissa says:

    Sure, Clint Who? Oh, right, Clint of the blog. Who is nobody, except maybe to his mother, who hit on me last night. I really couldn’t care less what you have to say about me.

    Oh, and learn HTML. Honestly. You shouldn’t be posting without it.

  3. Clint T. says:

    Status: Feeding tube removed Friday. Still alive Monday, one arrest for attempting to bring Terri water.


    ..and the latest news about the nations favorite vegetable? You thought Congress getting involved was going to be annoying? Jeb, seriously damnit.. why?!


    Off the subject, but I bet you thought it was just limited to Springfield city limits:


    Anyone who can make those clickable, please do.

  4. Clint T. says:

    Well then by-all-means, please do put your magazine out. It’ll keep me mildly entertained, and perhaps your latest column can be more thought provoking than, “Crashing The Party.” A real piece of great work there. It’s a good thing you’ve always got that “I’m an anthropology major…” thing to fall back on. 😉

    If I feel so strongly to submit something.. can it include your line of rationale in which you start with an argument against lawsuits like this because the family, “Sued for the doctor not informing the husband (and family) about the medical disorder, which he couldn’t because it was a violation of confidentiality..” and morphs inexplicably to, “They sued the doctor for his inability to properly treat an eating disorder..” and finally settles belligerently on, “I am telling you that the doctor isn’t liable, and I stand by it.” All of which were either factually inaccurate or completely based on normative judgments which fail to provide any intellectual basis whatsoever.

    As far as, “reading the case closely..” Apparently I’ve done more of that than you have in my less-than-24-hour-perusing-of-the-case, because in my brief search of articles this morning.. I found TERRI DID HAVE PHYSICAL SIGNS OF HER CONDITION other than the non-existence of a menstrual cycle. Most notably:

    “Woodworth and Miami lawyer Gary Fox maintained that [Stephen] Igel saw Mrs. Schiavo four times over a year and never asked about her nutrition and never noticed the loose skin and stretch marks resulting from her substantial weight loss.”

    Never asked about her nutrition.. and never noticed the loose skin/stretch marks. Wouldn’t that qualify to strike down your comment, “Terri had no visible physical symptoms other than her menses loss.” You’re citing examples of general bulimia from a website, while the facts to the matter point to the existence of physical evidence on Terri’s body. Lets not forget the fact that there is evidence of weight loss that was apparently ignored by the doctor during Terri’s visits.

    Anyway, in the interests of putting this to bed I will say Terri was mostly to blame for her own situation. Apparently the jury for the case agrees with that, to the tune of 70%. The doctor’s negligence was responsible for the other 30% – he did not properly care for his patient.

    I do agree with your generalization that American’s are too lawsuit happy, as Casey has personal testimony on, and a good example of. In this case, however, with the information provided, it sounds like the doctor didn’t tell Terri – “You have an eating disorder that is causing a myriad of health problems.” Why he didn’t tell her that was because he failed to pick up on the physical evidence of her condition. Again, that turns out to be 70% her fault, and 30% his.

    At either case, where the f’k is the new issue? And Tim.. thats hilarious.

  5. Casey says:

    The Pope pool is a suckers bet. Even when he does die (which I think he might have already) the cover-up is going to skew any official results. A parley with Shiavo and the Pope might be a good idea though.

  6. Melissa says:

    No one invited me? I have the Pope pool goin’ on over here.

  7. Timothy says:

    Also, I so should’ve picked Terri for my celebrity death pool.

  8. Timothy says:

    Terri are you dead yet, are you dead yet Terri?

  9. Melissa says:

    Clint: I have a magazine to put out, yo. Maybe you should read THAT instead of pouring your emotions into a blog and walking the thin line between troll and faceless jackass. If you feel so strongly, why don’t you submit something? Of course, given your posts here, I doubt we’d give it a second look before it hit the recycle bin..

    If you read the case closely, Terri had no visible physical symptoms other than her menses loss. Eating disorders aren’t always obvious. I am telling you that the doctor isn’t liable, and I stand by it. I’m not anti-lawsuit, I just think that the American public is too sue-happy lately when they don’t get what they want out of doctors.

    You said,
    “Did he do his job as a doctor to properly diagnose and propose remedy for the patients problem? Absolutely not. And that is why he got sued. He dropped the ball.”
    Diagnosing bulimia wasn’t his job. It wasn’t his area of expertise. Diagnosing a missing period, that’s his job. It is not an easy job to do; can’t just pop in there like a mechanic, do some tests and declare the problem.

    Note that bulimia is on the Psych Central website (not the GYN site) and that it states:
    “Family, friends, and physicians may have difficulty detecting bulimia in someone they know. Many individuals with the disorder remain at normal body weight or above because of their frequent binges and purges, which can range from once or twice a week to several times a day.”

    Womens Center for Mind-Body Health is also a good site, though too holistic for my taste. You may understand the disorder in question better, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the case was properly thrown out by FDH.

    If you think I’m not informed:
    Hyscience, one of my favorites. A tidbit:

    “Contrary to the account of writer Chachere, there was never a determination by any court nor the Florida Department of Health that Terri Schiavo ever suffered from any eating disorder, bulimia, anorexia or compulsive behavior that would lead to a heart failure at the age of 26.
    Indeed, Florida s Department of Health had completely and absolutely cleared Terris general practitioner of any negligence or wrong-doing in her case. This was after the physician had been accused by Terris husband of ignoring evidence of an eating disorder.
    Additionally, at the time of her mysterious medical episode, Terri Schiavo stood 53 and weighed somewhere between 115 and 118 pounds a slim, but normal stature and weight.”

    Now as to me being a liberal white woman, I’ll leave you with your accusations thus far:
    At either case, bringing this sort of thing into the discussion reminds me of all the crap the liberals there at the university used to love to throw into arguments, “..well seeing as how you’re a WHITE MALE.. you could never understand what it’s like to be a pigmy hermaphrodite whose missing a toe and thumb while living under the oppressive rule of a Chilian dictator that..” You get the picture.


    Now, I can’t really tell if you’re just on the anti-lawsuit bandwagon, repeating the rhetoric of the republican all mighty, just so you can be en vogue with the group around here..

    Dude. Which one is it? Am I a liberal poo-flinging chimp, or a republican witch with a broom up my ass? Can’t be both..

  10. Clint T. says:

    In some of the stuff I read today.. they said there’s still $300k+/- available in the TS trust fund. Although I do agree with you about your types of lawsuits.. but thats also why we carry car insurance. And the insurance people have big bad lawyers and deeper pocket books to force settlements like they did in your case.

    A friend of mine in Eugene, whose wife is a rather wealthy dentist, hit an eldery man (who was supposed to be under the direct supervision and care of his family) while he was j-walking across the street. There was a fire truck who witnessed the incident and indicated the fire truck needed to swirve out of the way to avoid hitting the man. The eldery man, died a couple of days later from the injuries associated with the collision. The mankiller (aptly nicknamed), was a ’00 Red Nissan Pathfinder.

    The retardo-family of the eldery man sued for $7 million dollars. Lets not forget the fact he was only released from the hospital under the pretense that his family would provide direct supervision and not let him go wandering out on the streets, like he did. The lawsuit was broken down neatly into 5-6 different parts, similar to what you’re saying with “250k here.. 150k there..” I remember while reading it the funniest part was the $1 million for potentially lost wages from the eldery man. I’m not sure what social security was paying the guy.. but at 80+ years old I’d have to say he must have had one helluva a life expectancy to garner that in lost wages. Something to the tune of about 274 years old.

    Like your story, this one had a happy ending with the insurance company settling for significantly less than the $7 million asked for. Not a dollar, other than the deductable for damage to the ‘mankiller’, from my friend’s pocket. Its a happy ending to a terrible story.

    Friend: “Nothing pisses me off more than assholes who take a tragic incident and do their best to make a buck off of it.”

    Me: “What are you talking about, thats the American Way!”

  11. Casey says:

    Does anyone actually know where that money awarded to TS went? It’s impossible to discern from all of the reporting, but I can’t imagine that a paltry $700,000 would last very long considering the cost of taking care of someone in TS’s state. As far as the money MS got, it could have been awarded becuase of “loss of companionship” which in and of itself is pretty lame. I was sued by the wife of a guy I rear-ended going 23 mph for 150,000 for loss of companionship, on top of the 250,000 that the guy I rear-ened sued me for “aggrivating a pre-existing degenerative disc disorder” in his back. I’m not sure what it ended up being settled for, as the insurance did the dirty work, but IMO, these are the kind of lawsuits that should be garnering congressional intrest, though I don’t have the kind of cash that doctors do to lobby.

  12. Clint T. says:

    Well Mel, your original reasons for why the lawsuit was unjust went something along the lines of “..the husband sued because the doctor didn’t tell him about his wife’s eating disorder..” somewhere along the lines that was manifested into, “..he didn’t properly treat bulimia..”

    When both of those reasons for the lawsuits existence were absolutely incorrect. Some would say your posts were based on ignorant knowledge Mel.. now I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a thin line.

    As far as your personal knowledge and feelings about visits to the GYN, which I will agree is infinitely more informed than me, I would say that your first visits as a 16 year old girl, and those of a late-20’s woman should have different stigma’s attached to them. At either case, bringing this sort of thing into the discussion reminds me of all the crap the liberals there at the university used to love to throw into arguments, “..well seeing as how you’re a WHITE MALE.. you could never understand what it’s like to be a pigmy hermaphrodite whose missing a toe and thumb while living under the oppressive rule of a Chilian dictator that..” You get the picture.

    The doctor was sued for his failure to *ask*, or his failure to *observe.* The doctor made a mistake. My guess is even the doctor himself would admit his mistake at this point. If you read that last link I posted, from the original 1992 case, you’ll see what this case boils down to is the doctor nonchalantly treating the patients issue – he didn’t pay attention to details, he didn’t pay attention to the patients PHYSICAL CONDITIONS. He attempted to treat the symptoms without knowledge of the cause.

    Now here’s where it gets tricky, the jury even claims Terri was 70% at fault for the entire incident. Which is why it went from a $6+ million dollar lawsuit to a 1.5 million reward, give or take. Her original doctor settled the $250k case for passing the buck, so to speak. The fact to the matter is that if the doctor had said, “Terri, you have an eating disorder. This is why you’re having these symptoms.. You’ll have 17 years left to live because of this illness.” The doctor would probably have gotten off clean. But the truth to the matter, is that.. IN THIS CASE.. the doctor dropped the ball. You can make speculation all you want, but when they reviewed THE MEDICAL RECORDS, the doctor didn’t have anything written about noticable physical conditions, as written above. Thats why the jury found him at fault. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MICHAEL SHIAVO OR TERRI’S PARENTS BEING UNINFORMED ABOUT HER EATING CONDITION. Can you please at least, give me the decency of acknowledging that FACT. Pretty please? With sugar on top?

    Look, I’m not going to sit here and defend Terri and her eating disorder. Dumb bitches who are persuded to look like stick figures by even dumber whores like Paris Hilton, probably deserve something similar to Terri’s fate. However, I’m also not going to let you run around screaming about how this was an unjust lawsuit based on A) misinformation on your part, and B) the fact that the doctor, did indeed, make a mistake, and he could have saved Terri’s life had he not made this mistake.

    With all of that said.. here’s the interesting point that you should look into arguing Mel.

    The lawsuit was mainly filed for Terri’s medical bills and husband’s grief for having to deal with, *and care for*, his vegetable of a wife. The husband even began taking nursing courses so he could take care of Terri while the 1.5 million lawsuit was in process. Hmmm..

    Once the lawsuit was handed down.. within 2 years.. the husband no longer wanted Terri to receive treatment. So, by my reasoning.. what was the lawsuit about then? For her medical bills? It was determined at one point that her medical care costs for the next 17 years – her life expectancy – would cost in excess of $20 million, depending on the type of treatment she would receive.

    The lawsuit was not *entirely* awarded as a pain and suffering for the husband. In fact, the husband was only entitled to $300k+/- of the entire settlement – and I believe some of this money was even to pay for his nursing classes. The rest went into a trust fund to pay for Terri’s medical bills.

    So during this lawsuit.. why is it we don’t see anything about Terri not wanting to be kept alive by artificial means? Its rather convenient for the husband to play the-“Oh my sick wife that I’m stuck with forever! I made marriage vows that in sickness and in health.. BooHooHoo Me!”-card while the lawsuit is going on, only to switch gears and make a complete 180 degree turn after the money has been awarded, and say, “My wife doesn’t want to be humiliated living like this, she would want to have her life ended.”

    In fact, most of that money from the malpractice lawsuit still sits in some trust account which currently dispurses the money ONLY IN Terri’s best interests. I.e. paying for the medical bills, paying for the court costs of the current case, paying for the extra security guards that now sit in front of Terri’s nursing home because of all the commotion the media has caused over this case… so when Terri effectively starves to death -which SHE WILL NOT FEEL, so all you individuals ready to pull the cruel and unusual punishment type card, STFU.. 🙂 – guess where the left over money in this trust account goes?

    Anyone place wagers for Michael Shiavo?

    So basically Mel, while I think the lawsuit is mostly bogus myself – I don’t think the doctor is liability-free. And the doctor, being in the wrong, deserves to have a malpractice suit slapped against his ass, just like he got – but the reward should have been for court costs, medical bills incurred up to that point, and pain and suffering for the husband. Which likely would have totaled 1/2 the amount that was awarded. If it was legal, and possible, I think Michael should be thrown in jail for being a scumbag mothaf’er who coveniently forgot that his wife wouldn’t want to be kept alive by artifical means until after he got a nice chunky lawsuit that was mostly provided for the future medical care of his wife.

    Now, I just wanted to let you know.. I harbor a wee bit of resentment towards you for making me get this involved in a case that I don’t give a shit about.. other than to echo Tim’s feelings..

    “I’m still shocked and appalled that this bull warrants national attention, let alone the attention of Congress. I don’t care what happens to this stupid, vegetative woman, but I do care that Congress is getting all up in the States’ faces about things like this.”

  13. Melissa says:

    Hey Timbo/Mel, if she lied about her eating habits, why didn’t that surface in the case?

    Exactly. This is why the media needs to back off and let people fight their own battles…off television.

    If Terri had been going to the gynecologist for longer than three visits, he didn’t need to ask for her medical history.

    Do you know when most GYNs ask you about your history, Clint? Between small talk while they have a hand up your nether regions and warm up the speculum. Talk about poor bedside manner. Example: “So, Melissa, how’s school? How’s your mom? She making progress with that class she’s teaching? Still with the same partner since your last visit? Seen any good movies lately?”

    It’s worse when you go to school with the GYNs kids. It’s all a girl can do to stare at the wall and think happy thoughts until the humiliation is over.

    Tim is correct: people lie in their medical history. I know I have, because I don’t want the grief. Premarital sex, alcohol use, the occasional toke, etc. When I was 16, I sure as hell wouldn’t have waltzed into my family doctor’s office and declared that I had passed out twice in PE class because I had been living on water, Skittles and diet pills. Everyone in town would have known by the next moring.

    The suit may have use the medical history loophole to win, but that doesnt mean that’s what it was over. The husband and the parents get on the telly and claim the doctor didn’t tell them. Fact is, Terri’s confidential medical records are common knowlege now. Veggie or no, those records should have stayed sealed permanently, just like everyone else’s records. I don’t think that Terri’s GYN did anything wrong. Terri and her unsupportive family are to blame for her condition.

  14. Clint T. says:

    Hey Timbo/Mel, if she lied about her eating habits, why didn’t that surface in the case?

    “Woodworth and Miami lawyer Gary Fox maintained that [Stephen] Igel saw Mrs. Schiavo four times over a year and never asked about her nutrition and never noticed the loose skin and stretch marks resulting from her substantial weight loss.”

    Hey, the doctor made a mistake, as we’re all *prone to do*. No one ever said being a doctor was fun, so don’t believe the hype you see on ER or Scrubs.


  15. Timothy says:

    Or she might’ve lied about her eating habits, as those with eating disorders are prone to do.

    I’m still shocked and appalled that this bull warrants national attention, let alone the attention of Congress. I don’t care what happens to this stupid, vegetative woman, but I do care that Congress is getting all up in the States’ faces about things like this.

    At this point I’m just hoping that she’ll hurry up and die so that her whiny, annoying family will be off the television sooner. Same way I felt about that mormon girl who was kidnapped a couple of years back, the one they found eight months later living on the street…I just wanted her to turn up (dead or alive, I didn’t care which) so her obnoxious, effeminate father would be off of CNN.

  16. Clint T. says:

    Ok.. so I googled it.. because I refused to believe this doctor was sued for “failing to properly treat” or “failing to inform her family..” and here’s what I got.

    “A Pinellas jury awarded about $1.4-million to Mrs. Schiavo and $630,000 to her husband in 1992 after her gynecologist failed to ask about her medical history while treating her. She also received a $250,000 settlement in a case filed on her behalf against another doctor. Felos said that after attorneys’ fees and other expenses, Mrs. Schiavo was left with about $700,000 and her husband with about $300,000.”

    So.. with that “new” information exposed.. this wasn’t about ‘failure to inform the family’, this also wasn’t about “failure to properly treat” an eating disorder. At least the bulk of the lawsuit, the 1.4 million.. was from a gynecologist failing to ask her about her medical history. Sounds a little sketchy, sure. But it still sounds better than, “failure to inform her family” or “properly treat..”

    Now, this may be reading between the lines, or this may be reading too much into things, pick which one you will.. but it appears as if when Mrs. Shiavo decided to go visit the doctor to find out why she was going through early menopause.. the doctor didn’t ask her the proper questions to determine what was wrong with *his* patient.

    Is it his fault she had an eating disorder? No.
    Is it his fault she went into this permanent vegatative state? No.
    Did he do his job as a doctor to properly diagnose and propose remedy for the patients problem? Absolutely not. And that is why he got sued. He dropped the ball.

    When was the last time your doctor didn’t check your medical history upon a visit? I remember going in for some cracked ribs and the doctor ended up asking about my allergies.

    Its tough to find any more information on the subject.. everything is about the current court case, or the current civil case against Michael Schiavo.. the reason no one is focusing on the doctor’s malpractice suit is because it appears to be a valid case.


  17. Clint T. says:

    So thats what the basis of lawsuit was.. that the doctor didn’t “‘properly treat’ her for bulimia or inform the family of her condition.” I’ve always been under the impression it was misdiagnosed, and since it would violate patient confidentiality laws to inform the family..

    I find it hard to believe thats what the lawsuit was over.. but I’ll take your word for it until I read otherwise. If thats the case – I certainly agree with you.

    ..and you’re getting better about picking out sarcasm.. but did you really need assurance?

  18. Melissa says:

    Now, I can’t really tell if you’re just on the anti-lawsuit bandwagon, repeating the rhetoric of the republican all mighty, just so you can be en vogue with the group around here..

    Dude. Assure me that’s sarcastic.

  19. Melissa says:

    If this gal’s health was so poor that her heart quit working, maybe the doctor does have some blame for not exercising the proper tools at his disposal.

    See, Clint, the oath says to first do no harm. It says nothing about forcing patients to be concerned about their own health. A doctor can’t force a patient with an eating disorder to eat, and can’t force them to go into the hospital for treatment.

    If they could, all patients with type II diabetes and CVD would be in prisons and forced at gunpoint to abstain from drinking Pepsi and eating twice-fried pork rinds.

    Sure, if you’re suicidal it’s a different story, and being born and raised in CA with a psych/LDR RN for a mother, I know all the ins and outs of mental health admits in the CA hospital system. You have to be pretty damn vocally sucidial to get the dreaded “Suicide Protocol Admission.” Eating disorders don’t count as serious self-harm. Until they have a problem that requires emergency services (like Terri’s did) it’s a “consent to admit” treatment plan.

    The suit against the doctor was brought by Terri’s husband after the heart failure, and claimed that the doctor didn’t “properly treat” her for bulimia or inform the family of her condition. Problem being that there is no treatment for bulimia, and the doctor didn’t even know… Terri went to him because she stopped having her period, which could have several causes (among them early menopause, endometriosis, pregnancy, etc.)

    Diagnosis is a tricky thing: to diagnose and treat a mental health problem, the doctor should have referred Terri to a psych professional. There is no testing procedure to confirm a diagnosis of bulimia because it isn’t a physiological illness. Had he made the diagnosis and attempted to treat her for it, he could be sued for practicing that branch of medicine without a license.

    well then the doctor should indeed be let off the hook because its not his fault some dumb bimbo who was bound and determined to look like Kate Moss died trying. In which case.. I think I agree with you?

    Yes, you do. Because of the eating disorder, the symptoms of starvation would get worse unless she evaluated her lifestyle more carefully and started eating. For bulimia and anorexia, that’s about the extent of recommended treatment a doctor has for an endstage eating disorder patient. Doctors shouldn’t be held responsible for stupid people who hurt themselves…see my posting on measure 35 in the archives.

    As for my heartlessness, it wasn’t so much the eating disorder/feeding tube situation, it was my presentation of such. Then again, you’d have to know me to know how things like that tend to fly out of my mouth; harsh and without sympathy.

  20. Casey says:

    “News?” Fraid not. In other Gibson related news, Mel also supports Shiavo’s parents, who are rumored to be BIG “Lethal Weapon” fans. By the way, this is the worst congress ever.

  21. Ian says:

    I forgot to mention John Gibson’s take on this whole thing, where he once again proves that he knows nothing about the law, the constitution, or marriage. First he says that Paris Hilton is smarter than every European person, then he shows disdain and expresses derision for adoption agencies, and now he says that the Schiavos have a “sham marriage” (based on the fact that Mr. Schiavo says that his wife told him that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive).

    It’s terribly sad that this “man” has a job at the biggest news network in the country.

  22. Casey says:

    For those non-Simpson geeks out there, the “ironing is delicious” line is from the before mentioned series, though me did fail english, which I thought was unpossible.

  23. Ian says:

    The Terri Schiavo case is a big story, but most of the public and nearly every bit of the MSM has been focusing on the wrong issue.

    The issue is not if Mrs. Schiavo should be kept on the feeding tube or not. That is not for us (the American public) to decide and certainly not for bureaucrats in Washington D.C. to decide. It should be up to her. State and federal courts have both repeatedly ruled that:
    a. Mr. Schiavo is acting in his wife’s true interests and that she would have wanted to have her feeding tube removed.
    b. Ruling a. was made in a proper manner.

    There is nothing to discuss here beyond that. Moral questions of whether someone who does not have a cerebral cortex should be kept alive or not are irrelevent. This has been decided through the courts system. It’s time for the rule of law to be followed.

    The big issue is why the US Congress has decided to act in a dangerous and anti-federalist manner. Ryan Sager (of the NY Post) puts it very well:
    Putting aside the tangled facts of the case for the moment — which include some bitter family history and selective science on both sides — the driving question here should be: Does Congress have a role?

    And when it comes to a family dispute over a painful medical decision, one which at least 19 judges in six courts have already adjudicated, the answer must be a resounding “no.”

    The forums for matters such as the Schiavo case are state courts, upholding state laws. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives — who want Roe v. Wade overturned and the issue of abortion moved back to state legislatures and courts — should understand this better than any other group of Americans.

    Bill Saletan and Dahlia Lithwick of Slate point out that the worst of it is the political grandstanding and bare hatred of the constitution expressed by legislators like Tom DeLay (who called pulling the feeding tube “medical terrorism”) and Bill Frist (who in the past has said that HIV can be transmitted through sweat and saliva). How can these men talk about “morals” when they’re quite obviously using this poor woman as a political tool?

    One of the biggest problems has been the amount of misinformation bandied about. Fred Barnes (of the Weekly Standard) has a recent column which makes a good example:
    * Terri Schiavo is brain damaged but not brain dead. She is not on life support. She breathes on her own. She occasionally laughs. She reacts to stimuli. She responds at times to her parents. She is not dying, though she needs a feeding tube. A doctor diagnosed her as being in a “permanent vegetative state” but other doctors have disputed that view. Indeed there are legitimate questions about her initial diagnosis. This is almost entirely misinformation. Mrs. Schiavo no longer has a cerebral cortex. While this does not make her “brain dead” in the sense that there is nothing going into or out of her brain, it does mean that she makes no voluntary movements, has absolutely no short or long term memory, and has no capacity to regain either of these things. While a cerebral cortex could conceivably be constructed for her in the distant future, it would contain nothing that makes her Terri Schiavo. She would not have her former memory, her former personality, or any of her other unique traits.

    Her feeding tubes are “life support”, considering that she cannot live without food or water yet cannot eat or drink on her own.

    She does not react to stimuli in any sort of consistent or patterned way. The Second District court found that:
    At first blush, the video of Terry Schiavo appearing to smile and look lovingly at her mother seemed to represent cognition. This was also true for how she followed the Mickey Mouse balloon held by her father. The court has carefully viewed the videotapes as requested by counsel and does find that these actions were neither consistent nor reproducible. For instance, Terry Schiavo appeared to have the same look on her face when Dr. Cranford rubbed her neck. Dr. Greer testified she had a smile during his (non-videoed) examination. Also, Mr. Schindler tried several more times to have her eyes follow the Mickey Mouse balloon but without success. Also, she clearly does not consistently respond to her mother. The court finds that based on the credible evidence, cognitive function would manifest itself in a constant response to stimuli. In other words, Barnes (and Sean Hannity, amongst others) are either intentionally spreading misinformation or are monumentally ignorant. Thankfully, National Review’s The Corner has had a nice healthy debate raging, with John Derbyshire and Jonathan Adler acting as the voices of reason. Says Adler:
    While Congress clearly has the authority to regulate federal court jurisdiction, and to provide for such jurisdiction so as to ensure that state courts act within constitutional constraints, I feel the legislation is in appropriate on several grounds. First, state courts make these sorts of decisions all the time in life-or-death situations, including death penalty cases without equivalent federal interference. Second, this creates a terrible precedent for ad hoc federal interference in high-profile cases of injustice. Private relief legislation is rightfully disfavored. Third, after-the-fact efforts to undue state court judgments are also a bad thing. If Congress wants to use this case as the basis for new legislation to provide for federal court jurisdiction where state courts violate incapacitated individuals’ federal due process rights, that would be fine and dandy. Unprecedented ex post facto challenges to state court judgments, on the other hand, should be avoided — even when the cause is just (and, yes, even when a life may be at stake).

    This entire thing is politics at its worst.

  24. Clint T. says:

    Mel, I understand your points – but the beginning of your post, where you indicate your sister almost slapped you (BTW, there’s a niche market for video of that sort of thing on the internet.. check into it, it could be good for a fast buck..) for pointing out the ‘heartlessness’ to it, was indeed not only picked up on by you, but by me, Casey, the USA Today, and now.. the 18 people that read the USA Today.. and 22 people that read the Commentator online. Here I was just ribbing you, so to speak.

    Now, I’m not privy to the medical records or documents that others might be (and in fact I’m not at all interested/barely informed on this case/lawsuit/eating disorder/senate hearing), but don’t you think the doctor is going to have medical records that should/would have gotten him out of the lawsuit? I think that’s the point you’re making – the media’s attention should be on, either the lawsuit and its injustice(?) or the fact a doctor cannot tell her family of her eating disorder? I’m assuming your point was the former, as the latter shouldn’t be up for debate for various other situations in which the same rules would be unlawfully applied.

    “The doctor her husband sued could do nothing for her. He was bound by patient confidentiality from informing her family.”

    Well did the doctor accurately assess her condition? If so, it doesn’t matter that he couldn’t tell her family. The doctors job was not to inform the family of her condition. The doctors job WAS TO ENSURE THE GOOD HEALTH OF THE PATIENT. If he has medical records to back this point.. if his little chicken scratch that no one can read said, “..patient has eating disorder, advised patient to start eating..” don’t you think the lawsuit would be dismissed?

    You’ve even stated they begin to, “force feed those patients in the hospital.” So why didn’t the doctor administer this remedy? You said, “The doctor her husband sued could do nothing for her” I think force feeding her would be qualified as doing something for her.

    Now, I can’t really tell if you’re just on the anti-lawsuit bandwagon, repeating the rhetoric of the republican all mighty, just so you can be en vogue with the group around here.. or if you’ve got additional information that I don’t, like “Yes Clint, the medical records the doctor had, said he informed the patient she had an eating disorder, and he tried to treat it by … and he was sued for his pants and lost anyway.” In which case all parties involved on the prosecution’s side of the lawsuit should be shot & hung. As it stands it sounds like this woman went to the doctor with this illness, and the doctor more or less dropped the ball. Thats the side of the argument I’ve been presented from the limited information I’ve received from the media. The fact that the doctor couldn’t go running to tell her husband/family doesn’t mean anything – here’s the point I’m making: as a doctor you have been given a certain degree of freedom to impose upon the freedom of other people. Sounds pretty filthy at first glance, eh? Well, here in California they have a law (probably other states too), that allow a doctor to admit a patient to a mental ward for suicide watch for up to 72 hours, at which point the patient can be re-evaulated and re-admitted for 30 days.

    If this gal’s health was so poor that her heart quit working, maybe the doctor does have some blame for not exercising the proper tools at his disposal.

    Of course, if the facts to the case are that the doctor accurately assessed the patients condition, accurately administered proper care/treatment (to be determined by a group of the doctors peers), and the lady still died.. well then the doctor should indeed be let off the hook because its not his fault some dumb bimbo who was bound and determined to look like Kate Moss died trying. In which case.. I think I agree with you?

  25. Tyler says:

    The new issue is actually done. The EMU bastards kicked me out of the office as they were shutting it down for Springbreak.

    I’m thinking of putting the new issue online in HTML rather than as a PDF. There are pros and cons to doing it this way, but I’d like to try it out for myself anyway. Your feedback would be appreciated.

    Nonetheless, look for a certain cocaine-related story.


  26. Melissa says:

    Clint: I’m not patting myself on the back. What I am doing is taking Casey’s point a little farther, and also pointing out that the media isn’t focusing on what should be the main focus of this whole case.
    The doctor her husband sued could do nothing for her. He was bound by patient confidentiality from informing her family. By choosing to have an eating disorder, she is responsible for her own health and the risks involved. Doctors don’t treat eating disorders. They just diagnose them.

    My point, very different from Casey’s, is that she was in end-stage starvation in the first place. Not just bad eating habits, but rapid weight loss (65 pounds in less than 6 months) loss of menstrual cycle (indicating less than healthy body fat percentage necessary to produce estrogen and progesterone), fluid and nurtient imbalance, metabolism shift, and variable blood pressure. They force feed those patients in the hospital.
    Terri was already days away from the point of no return.

    The ironing is truly delicious. Dude, so is the gentle cycle/dryflat/non-chlorine bleach!

    As to the next issue, Tyler is MIA, and I’m going to WWP in the morning to approve the proof. It should be back by the 28th.

    The issue after that should be up as soon as I find Graf’s lazy ass and chain him to his desk. Just to soothe any buring desire to expect future issues, I have….ta da…a production schedule! New issues should be online the third Monday of every month starting in April.

  27. Marla says:

    Hear, hear!

  28. Meghann says:

    when the fuck is the new issue going to be online?!!

  29. Clint T. says:

    Hey Mel, great post.. and great point, but I liked it more when it was an original idea from Casey about.. oh.. 5 days ago:

    “Anyone else think that it’s sadly ironic that her heart stopped from a chemical imbalance stemming from and eating disorder? In regards to who should decide, that is the crux of the problem in that her parents want her kept alive, but the husband don’t. I would tend to side with the husband, even if he’s got another girlfriend/family.”

    With that said, I doubt you’re patting yourself on the back for something we all realized and think is morbidly funny.

  30. Casey says:

    This whole fiasco boils down to the selfishness of her parents. They have previously stated that they don’t care what Terri would have wanted. It’s all about what they want, individual rights be damned. The ironing is truly delicious.

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