Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, March 21, 2005

More on Schiavo . . .

I thought I was done dealing with this, had said what I had to say and read what I was willing to read, but then I came across this ObWi post that's brilliant for cutting through all of the rhetoric suggesting this case is somehow unusual, unprecedented, or reflects lawlessness in the Florida judiciary.

Hilzoy, a bioethicist, clarifies the issues both in abstract ethical terms, and along the way provides an excellent round-up of what's really been happening on the legal end of things. All of it points to the same conclusion: Terri Schiavo would have wanted this long ago, and even if you wouldn't want it for yourself if you were in her situation you should want it for her.

Regarding what he believes to be the sharpest objection -- the nature of the evidence accepted of Terri's wishes in the absence of a living will -- Hilzoy writes:

Lots of people have very strong views about treatment, views that they have expressed repeatedly and in detail, but have not written a living will. It is not the least clear to me why we should not accept other people's reports about what a patient has said about relevant cases, especially since we accept witness testimony in all other legal proceedings, including those on the basis of which we sentence people to an involuntary death.

This last point simply cannot be overstated; witness credibility is something only a jury or a judge can be trusted to assess; and the ability to do is at the very heart of our legal system.

(For extra credit, scroll down a little ways into the comments and read Katherine's first comment for further discussion on theological and political ramifications. Hat tip Binky at Bloodless for the heads-up re Katherine's post.


Anonymous binky said...

For what seems to be a decent summary of the legal aspects:

1:44 PM  

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