Friday, July 07, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

Thoughts on Schiavo

During the whole Terri Schiavo mess I was skeptical about the way the Schindler family was handling the case and felt that the whole fight was being mischaracterized as a euthanasia case when it was actually just a custody battle, but I'm getting a little bit of a new angle now that I'm working at the firm that represented the Schindlers. Turns out it really was "just a custody battle" but that there was more going on below the surface. I don't know a whole lot about PVS, or about autopsies (maybe our medical friends can help us here), but it sounds to me like "vegetative" didn't really mean "vegetative" and some actors who should have been impartial got more personally invested in the procedural history of this case than justice allowed. It also sounds like medical determinations that should have been made by people in white coats were being made by people in black robes. All the right-to-life stuff in the media was a last-ditch effort to get a horrible, horrible lower court decision overturned when the procedural doors were closed, and the lesson perhaps we should learn (my analysis now, not to be mistaken for that of any parties or representatives thereof) is that maybe procedural doors shouldn't be so airtight (even in civil court) when finality of the decision is also finality of life.

Incidentally, David Gibbs' book Fighting For Dear Life came out today, and we'll probably be seeing and hearing him talk about it on national media over the next few weeks. (early review of the book)

Tangentially related, I noticed an article on New York Times today about another Terry (Terry Wallis) who suddenly "woke up" from PVS (kinda takes the "P" out of PVS, huh?) three years ago after being "mute and virtually unresponsive in a state of minimal consciousness" for 19 years. Good thing there was no custody battle over him. Quotation from the article:

"Mr. Wallis spent the second 19 years of his life at a nursing home in Mountain View, and family members who visited said they saw plenty of hints of awareness along the way. He seemed to brighten when they walked in his room. Something in his face would tighten when he was impatient or hungry."

I don't know; it sounds a little familiar. It seems like the Willis family would have filed an amicus brief or something in the Schiavo case, or that I at least would have heard of Terry sometime during the whole media furor. Was he talked about and I just missed it?