Terri Schiavo – Thoughts On Her Case.

by Asoka Selvarajah on March 30, 2005

A lady called Terri Shiavo is nearing the end of her troubled
life as I write this article. Today may be her last.

Terri Schiavo’s brain, according to doctors, has been in a “persistent
vegetative state” for over 13 years. Eleven days ago, at the
order of the courts, the hospital removed her feeding tube in
order to allow her to die.






The case has caused enormous controversy in America, not only
because there is serious debate as to whether Terri Schiavo’s
brain is truly non-functional, but also because of the battle of
wills between her husband and her parents, each of whom are on
opposite sides of the “right to die” debate.

This is no doubt a complex case within a complex area of ethics,
law and morality. There are no black and white answers to cases
like these, despite what fundamentalist religious groups might
like to claim.

Speaking personally, and looking at the Terri Schiavo situation
from a non-partisan spiritual perspective, I would say that, on
balance, the tube should have remained in and Terri Shiavo should
have been allowed to live. However, at the same time as saying
this, I acknowledge the legitimacy of the counter-argument;
namely, that preserving her life under these conditions may be
against what Terri Schiavo herself expressly wished.

My thoughts are as follows:

(1) In this specific case, nobody can pronounce with 100%
certainty that it is “impossible” for Terri Schiavo to ever
improve from her condition. Her brain is not “dead”, but rather
it functions at a very low level. Even though the probabilities
are low, it is nevertheless possible that improvement could
occur, or that a treatment might be developed within the next few
years that could help. Stranger things have happened.

(2) Far from serving no useful purpose, Terri Schiavo’s life DOES
serve a valid purpose, even in her present condition. There are
still parents and other relatives to whom Terri Schiavo means
everything. They still have love to express, and hopes to
maintain. Moreover, it does not appear that these hopes are
totally groundless. The body is a remarkable miracle and its
capacities for self-repair are not full known.

Whatever are the legitimate views and feelings of the husband,
the love of parents for their own child should not be discounted.

(3) Although it may be argued that Terri Schiavo once expressed
her wishes to NOT be allowed to live under these present
conditions, it can also be argued that the Terri Schiavo who made
that request is gone, perhaps forever lost deep within the
recesses of her own vegetated brain. The Terri Schiavo who lives
now is not truly the same person, but is arguably a REAL person
nevertheless. This person is able to breath by herself and there
is evidence that she seems to respond to people in the room. Her
body maintains itself in many ways, and seems to want to live.

(4) Events happen to each human being for specific spiritual
purposes, according to that person’s karmic destiny. The Eastern
spiritual traditions discuss this concept in terms of the karma
created in our previous lives. This can also be argued in the
Terri Schiavo case. Suffering is the one reality of all beings in
this manifest universe. Hence, by enduring this suffering, there
are heavy karmic debts being repaid, and great karmic merits
being gained for future lives.

In many ways, terminating the process also abruptly terminates
the spiritual process that was destined to unfold, leaving it to
complete itself in the next life.

(5) There is always the slippery slope to consider. When a “mercy
killing” of this nature is allowed in the case of Terri Schiavo,
it may not be long before it is applied more frequently and with
laxity. There are other people, equally severely handicapped in
many hospitals across America. The Terri Schiavo ruling makes it
just that bit easier to make this the rule rather than the
exception.

As stated, the Terri Schiavo case is no easy one. The thoughts
presented above are NOT of the Christian fundamentalist “right to
life” sort, which are based upon ancient and essentially
unprovable dictates. Instead, most of them are based more upon
compassion, and upon giving the benefit of the doubt where
possible. These life & death issues are so complex and various
that there are truly no “cookie-cuuter” solutions. Each situation
can only be taken upon its own merits, in the hope that wisdom
and compassion may be allowed to prevail.

Copyright Asoka Selvarajah 2005. All Rights Reserved.
_______________________________________________________________

Asoka Selvarajah is a writer on personal growth and spirituality,
and the author of “The 7 Golden Secrets To Knowing Your Higher
Self”. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen
their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s
purpose. You can subscribe to his FREE ezine, and get his FREE
ebook “Inner Light Outer Wealth” at:
http://www.aksworld.com/AspireToWisdom.htm?imk=Blog
_______________________________________________________________

You have permission to reproduce this article in your ezine,
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Name: Primary Email:
ChrystalWolf says:

Regrettably I came to this blog a little late, but will at any case make my comments.

What you have said I agree with 100%. It is too often that people forget to look at the whole. Taking only that which is favorable to them and their own wants and needs. As a society we are quick to eradicate, or get rid of that which we don’t understand or find offensive in some way. Terri Schiavo’s case is just one example.

As long as there is a thread of life there is always hope. Terri was not on any artificial breathing devices, she was breathing on her own. Therefore her body, her essence still had a will to live. It is that essence, that soul, which should have been given the right to live. When it was time for Terri’s soul to move on, her death would have come about in a more natural manner.

As for Terri’s “husband”, he took vows. When you take marriage vows it says, “In Sickness and in Health, FORSAKING ALL OTHERS, Till death do us part”. It doesn’t say “until you get sick and I’m tired of dealing with you”. Or, “you’re only allowed to be THIS sick, and then all vows are off”.

Again, we are such a throw away society. Especially where marriage is concerned. If we don’t like what we’ve got…get rid of it, move on, get another one. The moment Michael Schiavo felt he could no longer stay faithful to his vows to Terri, he should have divorced Terri and allowed her parents and siblings to take over her care.

Marriage vows are something that should be thought about long and hard before ever making the commitment. If there is any doubt in your heart that you cannot fulfill your vows COMPLETELY, then you are not ready for marriage.

And should you find yourself after marriage, feeling that you need to move on…Then the right thing to do is to be honest with yourself and the other person, move on and allow them to have the love that they truly deserve.

Blessings…

MK says:

Hello Selvarajah,

I registered recently for Aspire to Wisdom ezine. I really appreciate your balanced approach on many things. And your discussion forum is very inspiring.

I was thinking about what if I had been in this patient’s place? I do believe in miracles and powers of sincere prayers, but I was wondering what lessons would that soul be learning from her present state? The objective of the science and medical healthcare is to serve the people, and not to prove that it can go to any extent to fight the final coming of death.

About her family, whoever wants to let go of their dear ones? People live in memories of their family. Isn’t it a bit selfish of them to let the soul suffer like that for their own attachment to her. I would never ever wish to live like that.

Rio says:

My family and I have been having discussions about this and I myself have expressed to them that if ever I should be in a vegetative state like Terri, they should let me go in peace and not be burdened with any life-support system. It was fairly easy for me to say that and honestly I guess I say that with a tinge of bravado. However, reflecting on that more seriously afterwards I realize that my life is not my own. It is a gift and it is not for me to destroy which is not mine and that I should leave it to the creator to take it away as he pleases. It is true that Terri is being kept alive by a life-support system, but isnt that too a creation inspired by the Creator to maintain life? No one can determine what happened to Terri’s soul, and to her whole being all the time she has been in coma. But I believe her soul was not inert like her body. We have no way of knowing what realizations she may have had, and if she in her present state would indeed want to be out of that life-support.
The arguments from both sides really do have merit, but in the end I think it should not be up to anyone to decide her fate bu the creator himself.

Martin Lipka says:

While I agree that there are many issues moral, legal, ethics, quality of life, medical and others. Terri has become a pawn between 2 factions husband and family. Many lives are terminated daily without the feeding frenzy lavished upon the media by the parents. Terri, as noted, was bulimic. This caused the heart attack and the following celebrated brain condition. Many doctors have testified on her condition. And testimony, under oath, was given as to her wishes. The courts formulated their opinion based upon that forgoing information.

Coming from a hospice it is not unusual to witness patients voluntarily not accept food. These patients are in the terminal stages of cancer. Do they experience hunger pains? The answer is no. However we give them all the love and attention including attending to their daily needs. Palliative care is done by Registered and Practical nurses and it’s not easy helping the patient body from soul. There are no live saving measures as all this has been done prior to their coming here. The stress relieved from the family is truly welcomed. Our work is performed at no costs and we only accept donations.

Terri has “endured” many years of extraordinary and heroic measures. Some of the doctors who have examined her note that the brain has been forever damaged as there is currently no way to transplant this organ. At first I supported the life saving measures and today, if only medicine was not this advanced.

Lisa O'Connor says:

What about the cost to care for Terri? I am torn about this. Although I want to believe there is an unlimited supply of money and everything else we might need – including extraordinary measures for life support – from what I understand, resources that are consumed for one case (like Terri’s) would then not be available to others. Where do we draw the line financially?

Asoka Selvarajah says:

Hello,

Thanks for the comments so far.

Actually, I am not taking a “stand” as such, but merely expressing an opinion, based upon whatever beliefs or experience I have about life. I think I did try to highlight the moral ambiguity of the matter in what I wrote, and trie merely to say what is my personal opinion, on balance. I have no “stand” as such.

However, that is precisely where the problem lies so often, since we all have a firm hold on the essential “rightness” of our opinions. I don’t really have too much investment in mine with regards to this matter. So, if you disagree, I’d probably go along with a lot of what you say.

As a matter of fact, when I first heard about this matter, I had the exact opposite opinion, but it just evolved as more of the facts came to light.

It’s true that we should not be morbidly curious. But it’s also true that this has become something of a national event for America, and is reported on daily overseas too. Hence, it did not seem unreasonable to air the matter for people to express their thoughts, and for me to express mine.

Janet says:

I disagree. I think that Terri deserves to be able to finally rest. I can only imagine the torture it is for the husband to watch her in this state, and also the parents who are afraid to see their child die. Terri is only 12 days older than I am. She is young (in my mind) for all this to have happened to her. It is highly unlikely that even if she were left on the tube that she would recover. Brain tissue is far more complicated that other soft tissue.

I would probably come up with a different conclusion had Terri herself said that she would want to live if something like this happened to her. It is respect for her free will choice that isi important to me, and since she stated that she would wish to go, I simply think that following this wish, irrespective of husband and parents is what needs to be the primary thought in making the decision.

I wish her rest and a happy new life.

Carole says:

Taking a look at one very dramatic example of the shoulds and should nots of human life, such as this one, is really something that draws much more drama into one’s life than can be examined for anything greater than that single example. As outsiders who have only been fed biased opinions by the media, we cannot realistically even allow an opinion to form about this case, nor compare it to future possibilities. Although it is difficult for me to see our courts make rulings on a private and very personal matters, I have to understand that they would have to have more information about this case than I do. This battle is not between you and I. This battle is between those closest to her. They are those who are privy to the full information. Our battle is with our morbidly curious natures and our ego that deems it necessary to have an opinion about that which we we know nothing. We do not know all the information about this dear woman. We have not been privy to her life, her wishes, her desires. We take stands on issues that are not ours on which to stand. And yet there are so many of us who take stands and turn our backs on those issues with which are ours to deal. Mr Selvarajah, I have enjoyed your writings; I have enjoyed your website; I have learned from your words, and yet I find it strange that you, after all you have written, take a stand on THIS issue, one that is not YOURS on which to stand. Success is also knowing what is ours and what is not.

Hi. I agree with you that we all have a destiny which is why I say that those of the Court who are not knowledgeable about our way of thinking are also part of this destiny. It is a tough call. Terry was bulimic and was killing herself slowly by starving herself to death, which is when she had the massive coronary that put her in the state that she is now in, coma then vegetative. If we hadn’t been so medically advanced she would have died right then. Was it destiny that she did get medical attention at that time? It is ironic that she would now be starved to death today. Or is it? Maybe, while she was in that long coma, her soul was other places learning other valuable lessons and now is the time for her soul to continue elsewhere. There are lessons for all in her life and the lives of others reviewing the media. Whatever happens I believe it is meant to be because the reason we don’t know what happens after death or if a great being watches over us, is so that we will learn the lessons we are intended to learn without regard to what the consequences are at the end. Some of us have more idea than others. The question of laxity in allowing others to die is a huge one and I agree with you, each case is individual and this should not be a common thing. However, as advanced as medical is, it still allows people to live as vegetables who would otherwise have died in another era less advanced medically. So I see both sides of the dilemma.

Lorraine says:

I have been following the Terri Schiavo case for a couple months now and agree with you that the tube should not have been removed. I really don’t think that a feeding tube qualifies as artificial life support and believe that allowing someone to starve and dehydrate to death has to be one of the most cruel and inhumane acts that could be inflicted upon someone. This in a world where we are supposed to be evolving and are so concerned about human rights and even animal rights. If my dog or cat became ill, I could not leave it to starve. The other part of it is that although Terri may not be able to express herself, one does not know what level of brain activity and awareness she may actually have. I agree that I would not want to be kept alive “artificially” indefinitely with no hope of recovery, but please, that does not include starving me to death…slowly and painfully. It still astounds me that a court in America could decide to do this to someone. Having personally been through one divorce and a couple bad relationships – I think I’d prefer to have my parents decide my fate sooner than any partner.

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