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Date Posted: 08:32:14 03/28/05 Mon
Author: Jean
Subject: John Whitehead...Rutherford Ins....on Terri schiavo

Since Terri has all ready had her feeding tube removed this is already playing out.
How sad.
Warning grafic discription of how a persons body reacts to the with holding of food and water.



The Slow, Horrible Death of Terri Schiavo
by John W. Whitehead

After Congress waged a day-long political fight over the fate of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman’s fate is once again in the hands of a federal court.

Early on the morning of Monday, March 21, 2005, the House of Representatives passed a bill ordering a new review of Schiavo’s case by a federal judge. Just after 1:00 am that morning, President Bush was awakened to sign the legislation, which will allow Schiavo’s parents to ask a federal judge to consider having her feeding tube reinserted. The feeding tube was removed the Friday before on a Florida judge’s order.

Terri Schiavo suffered irreversible brain damage in 1990, when her heart stopped briefly because of a chemical imbalance. Now, 15 years later, the 41-year-old woman can breathe on her own but relies on a feeding tube to stay alive. Court-appointed doctors say Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. Schiavo’s husband has battled for years to have her feeding tube removed and let her die. Her parents, however, believe she could recover with treatment. But even if recovery cannot happen, they are horrified at the possibility of starving their daughter to death, which is the way Terri Schiavo will die if her feeding tube remains disconnected.

The media have covered the legal questions that have arisen regarding Terri Schiavo’s right to life and the decision to let her die after 15 years of living in a vegetative state. The battle between Schiavo’s parents and her husband and the political battle being fought in Congress over a human being’s life have been played out on television. Like many issues that divide the public and potentially set precedents for future related issues, politicians with their own motives have adopted Terri Schiavo’s case and turned it into a political drama. As Rep. Barney Frank put it, “political considerations are inevitable in anything we do.” He added, “I think there’s a mix of motives.” Meanwhile, news reporters have further distorted it into a case about “who will win” by hounding Congress with questions about political motives, too often ignoring the human question of whether, and how, we may make a decision about a human life.

However, what we have not seen in the news is a discussion of the chosen inhumane method of killing Terri Schiavo—by depriving her of hydration and nutrition—and the definite suffering she will be subjected to if this is allowed. Most people who hear that Schiavo’s feeding tube has been removed and that she will die within a few weeks imagine she will undergo a peaceful death, possibly falling into unconsciousness and feeling no pain. Yet the reality is far different. Far from “ending a patient’s suffering,” removing a feeding tube as a method of ending a human life amounts to cruel starvation, which constitutes a slow and painful death.

The public is not aware of what will actually happen to Terri Schiavo after her food and water are permanently withdrawn. The reality is that, over a period of several weeks, she will be slowly starved to death. The first effects of starvation and dehydration when the feeding tube is removed include the mouth drying out and the tongue becoming swollen and cracked. When a person is slowly killed in this way, the lips become parched and cracked, and a thick coating may begin to cake the mouth and lips. The eyes will sink back into the skull, while the cheeks will hollow. The lining of the nose will begin to crack, too, possibly causing nosebleeds. The skin will turn dry and scaly and hang loose on the bones. Urine decreases, becoming highly concentrated, and eventually stops completely. Then, the stomach lining dries out, causing vomiting and dry heaves. Brain cells dry out, too, causing convulsions. The respiratory tract dries out and thick secretions develop, which may plug the lungs and airways. Eventually, after the body suffers all these effects, all the major organs fail, including the lungs, heart and brain.

Just two days after his daughter’s feeding tube had been removed, Bob Schindler visited Terri Schiavo. Schindler said he could see the effects of dehydration on her. Despite her signs of weariness, Schiavo showed responses to her father’s presence. However, if hydration and nutrition continue to be withheld from her, it could be two weeks—or longer—that she remains conscious during her slow starvation before she finally dies.

The measure of any society is how it compassionately protects the infirm and less fortunate. In the case at hand, by inflicting a slow, horrible death on Terri Schiavo, society is depriving this poor soul of her humanity. It is also a reflection of how seriously we as a society believe in the individual worth and dignity of every human being.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute and author of the award-winning Grasping for the Wind. He can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.


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