Monday, April 04, 2005

Terri Schiavo (again)

This will probably be my last post on the Shiavo case. As I have said before, I could go both ways on this issue. I was talking to my boyfriend's dad recently (who is a hospice director) about the issue, and he agreed with me about it being a hard decision. However, I want to dedicate this post to more "truth stretching" I have been hearing around.

Today Rush Limbaugh was talking about recent polls that said most of the country said that they agreed with Michael Schiavo on the issue. Rush said the poll questions were loaded. He said the used words such as "terminally ill," "coma," "life support," etc. I agree, if these words were used, the questions probably were a bit biased. He then discussed a Zogby poll that found, basically, the exact opposite findings as the first poll. He said the Zogby poll was clear to point out situations where someone was not in a "coma," "not on life support," and most importantly for me, he said one of the questions asked if people would withdraw "food and water" from an impaired loved one. Rush claimed that these questions were fair, honest questions. But, as you can probably see, they were far from it.

To be sure, the questions should have just stuck to the Schiavo case specifically, not some hypotheticals with loaded questions.

On to the "truth stretching." Let's be clear that Terry was not receiving "food and water" through a feeding tube. She was receiving specially formulated liquid proteins because her body could not process any type of food. Using words like "food and water" is meant to sway public opinion.

Also, hospitals, doctors, and most of the medical community considers the type of feeding tube Terry was receiving to be life support. People may personally disagree, but the medical opinioin is that this does constitute life support. This is definitely a special type of feeding tube, not to be confused (again) with the giving of basic food and water. On this note, I have mentioned before that hospitals in Texas and across the country end the life support of their patients all of the time by removing the same type of feeding tubes. President Bush even signed a bill into law allowing this type of thing in Texas while Governor. So, to say Terri was not receiving life support may be one's personal opinion, it is not a medical fact, and leading people to believe otherwise is not being completely honest.

Finally, while Michael Schiavo may have agreed to an autopsy, he is not the one that asked for it. Florida law requires cremated bodies to be autopsied first. So, reports attacking him for pretending to clear his name through an autopsy are misleading. He had no choice in this. He very well could have been trying to respond to alarmingly unsupported claims of abuse by saying that an autopsy would help dispell these rumors (how else could he disprove something like this?), but he did not offer up an autopsy just for this purpose. The state required this all along.


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