Patterico's Pontifications

3/20/2005

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.

26 Responses to “We Report, the L.A. Times Distorts, and You Decide”

  1. […] less lethal injection, you wouldn’t see me blogging about this. I wouldn’t be posting at 2:45 a.m. about it. I could go along with a de […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » Words of Wisdom (0c6a63)

  2. What part of FIFTEEN YEARS ON A FEEDING TUBE do you fail to grasp?

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  3. god…stephen hawking has spent how long needing very nearly the same care…??yet we would never
    consider letting him starve to death, because its inhumane.When does it become OK to let someone starve to death?WHAT PART OF “THOU SHALT NOT KILL” DONT YOU GET??

    eric the white (71d997)

  4. “Caving in to…evangelical Christian conservatives”. In contrast to what, “Brave lawmakers elbow aside all moral concerns, stand up proudly for death by starvation.” That is the other arguement, isn’t it?

    Kerry (cee477)

  5. Richard:

    I don’t fail to grasp any part of it. What part of my post are you failing to grasp? The answer appears to be: the part where the newspaper completely distorted Frist’s remarks.

    Patterico (756436)

  6. Richard,

    If you want to have a civilized debate about this, feel free to make your points. Your previous comment is almost completely content-free; how can I respond if I don’t know your point?

    For example: is your point that 15 years on a feeding tube is not something you think most people would want to endure? Please read this post.

    Is your point that Ms. Schiavo cannot completely recover after 15 years on a feeding tube? I grant the point. The L.A. Times made it sound as Frist had said she could; Frist did not say that.

    Is your point that Ms. Schiavo cannot learn to swallow food after 15 years on a feeding tube? My response is that she swallows her own saliva. Perhaps she could learn to swallow her own food if her husband wouldn’t fight rehabilitative therapy tooth and nail.

    Richard, please don’t type out cryptic arguments and expect people to understand them and respond. And writing them IN CAPITAL LETTERS doesn’t help me to understand.

    Patterico (756436)

  7. Lying by Omission
    Patterico’s Pontifications No one post linked here, go and read what Patterico has written on the Schiavo case. To put it bluntly, people are lying about Terri Schiavo’s condition. Her husband for one. Mainstream media for another. Those who say…

    Mythusmage Opines (71e36e)

  8. Frist is running for president, so he’s decided to pander to a group of people who not only expect that God will shortly perform a miracle and restore this woman’s brain function despite the fact that 30% of her cortex has already turned to jelly. The Times was very kind (to Frist) not to point this out.

    We can debate the degree of Terri Schiavo’s vegetativeness until the cows come home. Several doctors say she’s a terminal case, and several say they aren’t sure. Her guardian has decided enough is enough, the other side has had their day in court, so as far as I can see it’s over.

    Some in Congress want to complete wreck the Federalist system in order to have a whack at the Schiavo case. This move will hurt the Republic, and we’ll all be better off if it doesn’t happen.

    I’m doing a survey of the people who think Terri Schiavo should continue to be force-fed: do you also believe Darwin was wrong?

    Just curious.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  9. I said 4.5 years ago there was a reason the Gore folk chose Fla. for their attempt to steal the election via the courts. This case is more proof of my reasoning. What we have here is a “progressive” judge fighting a “conservative” Governor. For the last three years every time Bush signs a law to help her the progressive judge finds it “unconstitutional”.This judge is out to embarrass Jeb and is using her to get at him. The rest of the Fla courts up to the Supremes are “progressive” and support his efforts to embarrass Jeb.

    This case highlights why Dr. Frist needs to find his courage and get competent, decent judges like Janice Rogers Brown on the Federal benches by Easter. Lives are at stake and time is of the essense,

    Rod Stanton (0eefed)

  10. According to Fox News, 19 different judges in 6 courts have already ruled on this case.

    One of those courts is the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case Friday.

    Enough is enough, the grandstanders should let this poor woman die and go exploit some other person’s tragedy if they must.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  11. Yeah, but only one judge made findings of fact. The rest were forced to defer to them.

    Patterico (756436)

  12. Is that a fact, or are you engaging in wishful thinking?

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  13. Richard, I don’t consider myself a grandstander, nor do I see myself as exploiting someone’s tragedy. I don’t believe in applying social Darwinism to this situation, and I don’t think the process the court used to decide this sufficiently protected her rights. That’s my opinion.

    Patterico (756436)

  14. Is that a fact, or are you engaging in wishful thinking?

    That is a general rule of appellate procedure. However, I’ll give you this: in researching the matter after reading your comment, I did find one appellate court decision, reviewing the denial of a motion for relief from judgment, in which the judges said that they would have ruled the same way the trial judge had on the issue of whether Schiavo could recover. The appellate judges said that, while their legal responsibility was to review the matter for abuse of discretion, they would have made the same findings if they had made a de novo determination. But that finding appears to relate solely to the medical evidence, and not to the issue of what Terri’s wishes truly were.

    I have found no evidence to suggest that any court (other than Judge Greer) has conducted a true independent investigation of the critical issue: were these really Terri’s wishes? Especially in light of the numerous affidavits I have discussed in so many posts suggesting otherwise, I think this is the critical shortcoming of the courts.

    If you find evidence to suggest that I am wrong, let me know. I have no interest in making an argument based on false facts.

    Patterico (756436)

  15. I’m happy to see you acknowledge, sort of, that any appellate court that found the trial court’s treatment of the facts wanting was capable of ordering a de novo review, and none did so. So the medical facts are not at issue, only the law.

    The question of Terri’s wishes isn’t really a factual issue given that she’s represented by a guardian, in the person of Michael, and has been represented by a GAL. There’s no doubt what the guardians want for Terri, which is (legally) what she wants for herself.

    So you lose on the facts and on the law, so all that leaves is the pounding of the tables, as the saying goes.

    I would submit that the Florida courts are particularly well-suited to dealing with end-of-life issues, probably more qualified than any in the country, so Terri’s friends should be happy that the issues have been raised and examined thoroughly and the right and proper determination has been made.

    Help them make peace with the decision.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  16. No, Richard, you’re not understanding.

    The appellate court said that it was authorized only to review the facts for an abuse of discretion. It was *not* authorized to order a de novo review. However, on the medical issues, the court stated that it would make the same findings even if it did review the evidence de novo.

    This gratuitous comment is *not* the same as saying the court could order a de novo review in any case. Other appellate courts that stuck with the applicable standard, and made no such gratuitous comment, did not thereby indicate their agreement with the fact-finding of the court below.

    Second, you are simply wrong that “[t]he question of Terri’s wishes isn’t really a factual issue” and is determined by the guardian in his sole discretion. This lies at the heart of my disagreement with the probate judge’s decision. The probate judge was himself required to find that clear and convincing evidence demonstrated Terri would want to have the tube pulled. For a single judge to have made this finding based upon unreliable hearsay evidence from Michael Schiavo, with his financial and emotional conflicts — and his previous arguments to a civil jury that he wanted to rehabilitate Terri — strikes me as bizarre.

    Patterico (756436)

  17. But surely you’ll admit that appellate courts can, as a general rule, order de novo review if they find impropriety in trial court findings, or new evidence, or several other things.

    And on the guardianship question, there’s only about a thousand years of law on the husband’s side, so take it or leave it.

    I’ll grant you that husbands in Florida don’t have the same presumptive right to kill their wives that they have in California (following Simpson and Blake), but they still do have the common law and its statutory double on their side.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  18. By the way, Richard, Darwin died an Anglican Christian, loyal to his faith first.Its peculiar
    how the idealogues have twisted his argument that the fittest survive to cover social conditions..
    I know of only ONE modern country where those less
    desirable or with some defect were killed, and that country, Hitlers’ Germany, is not one we Americans should try to emulate.I will only say that we tread a very dangerous slope by allowing
    ourselves the hubris of thinking that those less fortunate than we deserve death.Shame on you,Richard, for so narrowly focusing on the COST of a life as opposed to its WORTH.

    eric the white (71d997)

  19. p.s….so the rest of America should play catch up with California’s brand of debauched justice? As for the thousand years of law..not long ago, legally,
    white men owned brown men.Laws change…take it or leave it.

    eric the white (71d997)

  20. I didn’t ask about Darwin to invoke some crazy survival of the fittest notion, I just wanted to see how many of the people who oppose family values are creationists.

    The legal and moral basis of this case rests in the nature of marriage. In our Western tradition, the husband and the wife are one person before the law, and we’d best not throw that notion overboard for a certain result, lest we do great damage to the insitution of marriage.

    We all want to protect marriage, don’t we?

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  21. Terri Schiavo
    It’s taken me a long time to ponder Terry Schiavo’s case. Now that she’s been taken off her feeding tube, it’s time to get off the fence. She isn’t brain dead. She does not need a ventilator to keep her alive. She only needs food. She has been dia…

    Les Jones (794c81)

  22. Hmmm….but Mr Bennett…the estranged Mr.Schiavo
    has another family, so your point is moot.He has children by another women so what is left to protect?Secondly, as far as protecting the sanctity of marriage, it seems the left is making full war on
    that institution right now by trying to marry homosexuals.I wonder exactly where you stand on this topic? My guess is you only want to protect
    marriage insamuch it suits your argument.Btw, until very recently, marriage wasnt a union at all
    but more or less a takeover of a woman by a man,
    hence the dropping of a womans name, et al.In Europe, a married woman had nearly zero rights
    for herself or for property.So even are blessed
    institution of marriage has chnaged to better suit the interest of the men and women in it.
    The question is, how does Mrs. Schiavo’s death best suit her?
    A second question..I regard myself as pro life..
    in this case as well as others..do you oppose being regarded as pro death, seeing how that is the outcome of your brand of jurisprudence?

    eric the white (71d997)

  23. Switching gears slightly, the post above says this:

    Frist was disturbed by the fact that Schiavo has reportedly never had an MRI or PET scan of her head,…

    That was certainly what Frist said, but this is what the Health Law Prof blogger says:

    As for the allegedly slim basis upon which Terri’s diagnosis is based, consider this excerpt from In re Schiavo, 851 So. 2d 182 (2nd DCA 2003) (No. 2D02-5394), rehearing denied (July 9, 2003), review denied 855 So. 2d 621 (Fla. 2003):

    …Through the assistance of Mrs. Schiavo’s treating physician, Dr. Victor Gambone, the [five] physicians [performing a court-ordered review] obtained current medical information about Theresa Schiavo including high-quality brain scans. Each physician reviewed her medical records and personally conducted a neurological examination of Mrs. Schiavo.

    Evidently, Frist may be wrong about this.

    As to “saving marriage”, I would think the court could simply allow the rebuttable presumption that the husband is the bestguardian. Let the parent present their facts, and see if the judge wants to appoint a new guardian.

    I have no idea whether that has been done (I assume it must have been, at one point). But at this point, with the new lover and the finanical stake, one might at least entertain the notion that this marriage is over.

    Great job, Patterico.

    Tom Maguire (1d5378)

  24. Evidently, Frist may be wrong about this.

    I don’t think so, Tom. CT scans were done, but not the more sensitive MRI or PET scans. Why not??

    Heck, I’ve had an MRI, and nobody has tried to kill me on the basis that I am brain-dead — at least as far as I know . . .

    Patterico (08c813)

  25. Mrs. Schiavo hasn’t had an MRI because one of Mr. Schiavos many attempts at rehabilitating her involved placing implants in her thalamus gland that render an MRI meaningless.

    I don’t know why she hasn’t had a PET scan, but I can easily believe there would be no point in it since she’s failed to respond to all efforts at rehabilitation and is in fact in a PVS.

    But if it amuses the bystanders, why not sell tickets and hook her up to every new machine on the market? Maybe we could get some winning lottery numbers from the right kind of scan.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)


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