In the wake of the autopsy findings for Terry Schiavo and a related post from Sam Karnick, my esteemed friend Tlaloc argues that “One can only hope that the people who spewed venom at Michael Schiavo and Judge Greer will say a few mea culpas and not rush to judgement next time.”
Really? Mea culpas for precisely what? Ms. Schiavo was not dying; she was severely disabled, and nothing in the autopsy report changes that. Her wishes were, at best, ambiguous, and—I am happy to say it again—Judge Greer was a moron for ascribing finality to Mr. Schiavo’s assertions about her wishes given his obvious conflicts of interest and inconsistent position over time. If Tlaloc believes that Mr. Schiavo knew the future findings of the autopsy, let him say that explicitly.
Serious policy issues attend upon this case and similar ones, and the Schiavo autopsy resolves none of them. Do we really want to be in the business of starving/dehydrating the severely (and let us assume, irretrievably) disabled? Precisely how disabled must one be to be judged unworthy of food and water through a feeding tube? Who should pay for such care? The Schiavo case actually was relatively easy along this continuum of agonizing choices: Ms. Schiavo’s wishes were highly ambiguous, her parents were willing to bear those costs, her husband was obviously compromised in terms of the credibility of his opinions with respect to what was best for his wife, and the federal courts— usually the last refuge of those contemptuous of life—simply ignored Congress’ clear direction that a de novo review be conducted of Ms. Schiavo’s federal rights. And so: There will be no mea culpas issued from this corner.