Patterico's Pontifications

3/20/2005

Terri Schiavo Legislation Passes

Filed under: Schiavo — Patterico @ 10:14 pm

The Terri Schiavo legislation has passed, 203-58. I watched the last few minutes of debate, as well as the vote.

Although the media will likely portray this as a partisan vote in tomorrow’s coverage, the fact is that voting Democrats in the House were nearly evenly split, with 47 voting in favor and 53 against. (Republicans overwhelmingly voted for the bill, 156-5.)

My reading of the bill is that it simply confers jurisdiction on the federal courts to hear this controversy. I would think a District Court would be likely to issue an order staying the removal of the feeding tube pending the outcome, but that’s just an educated guess. You never know.

UPDATE: As of 10:28 Pacific time, CNN is reporting that President Bush has signed the bill.

UPDATE x2: I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this, but Xrlq has what purports to be audio of Terri shortly after the feeding tube was removed. You can listen to it — if you want — here.

UPDATE x3: A commenter says that the audio is from last year, according to Terri’s brother.

UPDATE x4 [3-21-05]: Howard Bashman says that the stay provision of the law was removed by Congress.

Patterico a Playful Primate? Preposterous!

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 3:52 pm

I’d better enjoy this now, because it won’t last long:

The AP‘s Brilliant Strategy for Avoiding Criticism from Blogs

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 8:30 am

Several days ago, I read the story about the AP‘s decision to provide two different versions of major stories. One will be “the traditional ‘straight lead’ that leads with the main facts of what took place.” The other will be an optional approach that “attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means.”

The examples given:

Traditional

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) A suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners Thursday, splattering blood and body parts over rows of overturned white plastic chairs. The attack, which killed 47 and wounded more than 100, came as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad said they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government.

Optional

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) Yet again, almost as if scripted, a day of hope for a new, democratic Iraq turned into a day of tears as a bloody insurgent attack undercut a political step forward.

On Thursday, just as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad were telling reporters that they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government, a suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners in the northern city of Mosul.

Here’s the part I missed the first time I read the story:

The AP stressed that the optional leads will not be available to the news service’s Internet providers. They are designed strictly for print.

Is this just a way for the AP to get out its bias in print, without being criticized by Web pundits?

We Report, the L.A. Times Distorts, and You Decide

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 2:45 am

The L.A. Times runs an article about how Congressional efforts to save Terri Schiavo are really just the product of lawmakers caving to pressure from evangelical Christian conservatives.

The article notes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist might be a candidate for president in 2008. The article then claims:

Frist, a physician, pushed his support for action to the point of declaring — on the basis of television footage — that he thought Schiavo might recover.

If I were writing the article, here is how I would describe Frist’s actions:

Frist, a physician, declared — on the basis of interviews, and his review of affidavits and videos — that he thought Schiavo’s condition might improve with therapy.

If I had the space, I’d say:

Frist, a physician, opined that Schiavo might be in a minimally conscious state, based upon several factors. Frist reviewed the court affidavits in the case, including 33-34 affidavits from doctors — at least 14 of whom were board-certified neurologists — who said that Terri Schiavo’s condition could improve with rehabilitation. Frist personally spoke to a neurologist who had examined Terri Schiavo and opined that she was not in a persistent vegetative state. Frist spoke with Terri Schiavo’s family, including her brother, who said she laughs, smiles, and tries to speak. Frist also reviewed about an hour’s worth of video footage of Terri Schiavo in his office. He said this footage shows that she is responsive. Frist was disturbed by the fact that Schiavo has reportedly never had an MRI or PET scan of her head, suggesting that she has never had an adequate neurological exam. Given the high error rate involved with diagnosing PVS, Frist said that there is a possibility that Schiavo is in fact in a minimally conscious state, and might be able to improve, if not fully recover, with rehabilitative therapy.

The L.A. Times version makes Frist look like an idiot. My versions make him sound sensible.

Who is right? Read this rough transcript of Frist’s remarks and judge for yourself.

An Interesting Insight Into the Mind of Michael Schiavo

Filed under: Schiavo — Patterico @ 2:01 am

I have noted Michael Schiavo’s self-absorption before. When asked by Larry King in October 2003 why Terri Schiavo’s parents wanted to keep her alive, he responded:

Probably just to make my life hell, I guess.

You get a window into this “it’s all about me” attitude once again in Michael Schiavo’s recent statements. He spoke to Larry King again recently, and was quoted in yesterday’s L.A. Times article:

[Michael Schiavo] said he was angry that the government had “just trampled all over my personal life.”

And you see it again in today’s L.A. Times article about the pending federal law to allow Terri’s parents to appeal to the federal courts:

Michael Schiavo, who had sought to have her feeding tube removed, said that Congress was “getting into something they know nothing about.”

“And it’s sad,” he said. “If they can do it to me, they can do it to everyone in this country.”

Note: he didn’t say “If they can do it to her” — but rather “If they can do it to me . . .”

I thought this was supposed to be about Terri Schiavo and her wishes. But Michael Schiavo seems to keep forgetting that.

P.S. I know that some will chastise me for supposedly jumping on an ill-turned phrase (or three) by a supposedly distraught husband. They will point out that anyone can stumble over their words when they are unaccustomed to public speaking. To those people I say: hold your fire. Read this post first. If anything, Michael Schiavo’s private words are worse.

L.A. Times Once Again Presents Only One Side of the Schiavo Controversy

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 1:35 am

For the L.A. Times, the Terri Schiavo story is simple. A woman in a persistent vegetative state, who told her husband she didn’t want to be kept alive by artificial means, is being used as a political football by a bunch of religious nuts. That’s how the controversy was portrayed in this article:

As a Roman Catholic priest administered last rites to Schiavo, 41, and demonstrators prayed nearby, national political leaders sparred over Congress’ unprecedented intervention into the battle over a woman whose story has roused the GOP’s social conservative base.

. . . .

“This is what Terri wanted. This is her wish,” her husband, Michael Schiavo, said late Friday on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” He said he was angry that the government had “just trampled all over my personal life.”

. . . .

Over the last few days, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress — responding to an outcry from the religious right — passed legislation in an attempt to delay the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube.

The article does quote one ethicist who has problems with the case:

Adrienne Asch, a bioethics professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, suggested there are “real problems in this case” and echoed concerns of many social conservative leaders that “a spouse is no longer the best decision maker.”

But the article makes Adrienne Asch look like a lunatic, because it does not even hint at the facts that might cause someone to say that there are “real problems in this case” or that Michael Schiavo “is no longer the best decision maker.” Anyone with a superficial knowledge of this controversy — and that means most people — will read this article and say: “What the hell does she mean the spouse isn’t the best decisionmaker? Nobody better say that about my spouse!”

But Michael Schiavo isn’t just any spouse. He has numerous conflicts of an emotional and financial nature. I don’t need to go over these again here. I have done it extensively many times, including on other occasions (such as this one) where the L.A. Times has failed to tell its readers about both sides of this controversy. For me, it’s all summed up in his statement about Terri, overheard by Registered Nurse Carla Iyer: “When is that bitch going to die?”

That statement has never appeared in the L.A. Times, and it never will. The paper has a consistent history of telling readers only one side of this story. All I can say is: they’re doing it again.

L.A. Times: Starving to Death Is a Walk in the Park

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 1:00 am

The L.A. Times hastens to reassure you that Terri Schiavo’s death by starvation and dehydration will not be cruel:

“This is not a cruel procedure,” [Dr. David A.] Goldstein said. “It is unlikely that [Terri Schiavo] will feel pain in any way that we as sapient people will identify. Many family members think it is a very comforting procedure … because this is not the way we think we want to live.”

Of course, Dr. Goldstein has never experienced dehydration and starvation himself. Now listen to the words of someone who has: Kate Adamson. She was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, and doctors removed her feeding tube. She was aware of everything that was happening to her, and she suffered terribly — and lived to tell about it:

When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I was — thought I was going insane. I was screaming out don’t you know I need to eat. And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had. . . . [W]hen Michael [Schiavo] on national TV had mentioned last week that it’s a pretty painless thing to have the feeding tube removed. It is the exact opposite. It was sheer torture . . .

Adamson elaborated to Wesley J. Smith, explaining that starvation was worse than having an abdominal operation with inadequate anesthesia:

The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, “Feed me. I am alive and a person, don’t let me die, for God’s Sake! Somebody feed me.”

. . . .

I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to [slake] my desperate thirst.

How interesting that, in the L.A. Times article, we hear from the reassuring doctor — but not from someone who has actually experienced this agony.

(Wesley J. Smith link via Spoons.)

UPDATE: A version of the Wesley J. Smith article in the Weekly Standard appends the following correction:

The article originally stated that Kate Adamson had been deprived of nourishment in an attempt to end her life. In fact, the dehydration was being done in attempt to alleviate a bowel obstruction. The painful surgery Adamson refers to was originally referred to as surgery to insert a feeding tub[e]. It was actually surgery to remove the bowel obstruction, which is a more involved procedure.

Thanks to commenter Ed at “Oh, That Liberal Media” for the link.


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