Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Mar 21 2005

Force Feeding

What an emotional roller coaster we've all been taken on lately with regard to the Terri Schiavo case. People don't know that Ms. Schiavo wants to keep eating. They don't know that she does not want to keep eating. Either she does not have enough brain activity to be able to express her wishes or she does not have the physical means to express her wishes. Or perhaps those surrounding her do not have the ability to understand some limited communication she does give in her present state. Because she never signed a definitive piece of paper stating her wishes one way or another she has become the unwitting center of attention for religious groups, political leaders, medical personnel, sociologists and just plain folks who realize we each could have easily been in her position or in that of her family members.

First of all, I'm a little concerned that people are taking sides in the parents vs. husband area. Some of these folks are pulling up the word "Christian" to say that the parents should have their way. But Christians believe that marriage trumps parental authority in adults. So I'd be a bit cautious before I jumped on this side of such things. The rest of us can't be certain what any of these folks' motives are, any more than we can be certain that Ms. Schiavo would sit up and ask for bread if she could do that. We just don't know.

Some feel it's inhuman to remove the feeding tube that keeps Ms. Schiavo going. I've heard people say that it would be unethical or even immoral of medical personnel to remove the tube. Medical advancements have made it possible to keep a person breathing in situations that would have been unheard of a century ago. If someone had sustained brain damage or brain injury back then, would they have been held down and force-fed by mouth, even if they screamed or choked on the food? I doubt it. Such behavior would have been considered cruel. Because we have the capability to "force-feed" patients now with the help of drips and tubes and other devices, the issue has another whole layer added to it.

We had a family member some years ago who was aged and would not eat. Coaxing, bribing and even scolding produced little results. The family member was offered liquid nutritional supplements by mouth, but still took in less and less nourishment as time went on. As far as we know the family member had not experienced a brain injury and was physically able to put food in their mouth and swallow and digest it. They just didn't feel like eating. Should we have force-fed them at that time? If we had disagreed as family members, what would have happened? Would the courts have stepped in? I don't even like to think about the ramifications that the Terri Schiavo case will have on many families from now on. State courts, national legislators and even President Bush have now become involved in this family's suffering. It's true that those of us now living can make up paperwork to prevent this kind of thing from happening to our own life if we are ever in a position where we can't speak for ourselves. But once the political machine has started its massive grinding, I'm fearful that even that carefully worded piece of paper outlining our wishes could be set aside down the line if some politician decided to go on a crusade because he or she felt that our choice was against their particular brand of ethics or religion. I don't recall a personal medical situation like Ms. Schiavo's ever having brought so many politicians into action before. If they're willing to step into this kind of life-and-death arena, it tells me that other issues involving family conflict and personal freedoms are probably going to be up for grabs in the near future. Politicians seem to feel they have a lot more entitlement to inject themselves into citizens' lives these days. Medical advances may have come a long way in the last hundred years, but human nature is pretty much the same. Forget feeding tubes. What we have to worry about from now on is force-fed politics.

posted at: 07:38 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Record Companies Just Don't Get It, But Maybe That's A Good Thing

First, a tip of the Stetson to Glenn at Instapundit for the information. If the error I keep getting as "too many connections" is any indication, Ourmedia is a hit. I was able to read about the project a bit more here. This is a volunteer effort, but even music pros are acknowledging that the record company execs are thinking like dinosaurs. Fiona Apple made an album that was never released, but the music is showing up here and there anyway. Is the time coming when all artists will cut out the middle man and go straight to the fans with music and other creative works? I love the idea. I don't need record companies telling me that I should have to listen to whatever music is worthy of their mass marketing and mass production. There are so many talented artists just itching to share their work. If the record companies are not going to help us all enjoy the wide spectrum of sounds and styles being created, I don't feel a bit sorry that the companies will lose out in the future.

posted at: 06:11 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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