Thursday, March 31, 2005

Did Terri Schiavo Really Die a Painless Death?

A year ago, April, I began reading through the book of Genesis, six verses at a time, five days a week. I read the passage, read all the associated cross-reference passages, look up mentioned places on the map, and jot a short journal entry regarding the passage.

This evening, my passage fell on Genesis 47:13-18. How odd that I should be reading about the famine in Egypt on the day of Terri Schiavo's passing.

With that as my backdrop, the passage took on a new light. In verse 14-15 we see the Egyptians hand over every dime of their money to Joseph in exchange for grain. By verse 16-17 they are out of food and next give up all of their horses, flocks, donkey, and livestock in exchange for more grain. The food runs out again, and in verse 18, the people give Joseph all of their land and by verse 19, they have all sold their very bodies into slavery.

I think this commentary denies the euphamistic lightheartedness that recent news articles have claimed Terri Schiavo's death was calm, painless, and peaceful. Look at these Egyptians, selling their very bodies for a bucket of grain. That, my friends, is called hunger.

The story of the famine in Egypt is reminscent of another biblical story: Esau. He was so hungry that he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. Again, it seems like extreme hunger leads people to do irrational things

It would seem that these are uneven exchanges. A birthright for a bowl of stew; life-long slavery for a bucket of grain. But is it? Food is sustanance, sustanance is life, and according to Paul in the book of Philippians, "To live is Christ." To rob a person of food is to rob them of life and their God-given opportunity to experience, fellowship with, and know Christ.

I read a book last summer entitled, Flyboys by James Bradley. It tells tales of Japanese soldiers, abandoned by Japan, weak with hunger, going mad and killing people for food. There is one particular paragraph in the book that I considered writing here to prove my point (and believe me, it would prove my point) but I just reread it now and have determined that it is far too horrific to repeat. So, just take my word for it -- you don't want to cross the path of a man starving to death.

Hunger doesn't merely lead to a growling stomache, irritability, fatigue, and one nasty headache. When deprived of food, men literally go insane. We see it in war stories, we see it in stories about planes crashing on deserted mountaintops, we see it in Somolia when food copters are highjacked, we see it in Genesis 47.

It is interesting to me that of all the names we have for bodily functions: hungry, tired, thirsty -- hunger is the only one that is the mere adjective for the real cause at work - pain. When our stomach growls, we call it hunger pains. Hunger is recognized, even in our most casual of terms, as painful.

We even catch of glimpse of this in the New Testament. Matthew 6:17-18a says, "But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting..." This verse acknowledges that going without food affects a person's attitude and appearance. Lack of food so manifests itself bodily that other people can look at you and know without being told that you have gone without food.

We see more evidence of the grueling pain of hunger in Revelation 6:8, "I looked and there before me was a pale horse. It's rider was named Death and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." Does it alarm you that hunger is listed among the short list of ways that Death will go about destroying a fourth of the earth?

In a country like America, where well more than half of us are obese, and we have so much food that we eat simply because we are bored, we may never be able to truly grasp this concept. But, it would seem to me, that going without food is about one of the cruelest forms of punishment man could possibly inflict upon another human being. It would have been more humane to have wheeled Terri Schiavo in front of a brick wall and killed her via a firing squad.

It scares me to be living in a country where I start to blog about our legal system and end up talking about one of the four horsemen of the Apocolypse.

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Raised From the Bed has posted an impressive list of patients declared PVS who at some point after diagnosis were revived.

Here is a brief synopsis of a man who revived after eight years in a coma:

Conley Holbrook A 26-year-old man, comatose since he was beaten eight years ago (11/27/82), regained consciousness and gave authorities the names of his alleged attackers. The recovery occurred while Conley was being treated for pneumonia at Lexington Memorial Hospital in High Point, North Carolina. "I was astonished," his mother said. "I never gave up on him. This is just a miracle. It's good to have him home talking." ("Beaten man beats coma, fingers pair of suspects", Press-Telegram (AP Report), 3/6/91.)

After ten years:

Earl Lanning

In 1978, a then 52-year-old Michigan man suffered a brain hemorrhage and remained in a semi-comatose state for 10 years. In March 1988, he suddenly became "very lucid", began to speak and remembered much of what happened before he was stricken. Doctors said that steroids changed Earl's condition: "They have been able to reduce the swelling of his brain But his primary nurse at the Veteran's Care Facility in Grand Rapids credits a good part of his recovery to a nurse's aid who "talked to him constantly while caring for him." ("Earl Lanning revives from ten-year coma", Penasee Globe, 3/23/88, Vol. 103, No. 27.)

Another eight-year PVS case:

Unnamed Patient

A 45-year-old Wisconsin man who had spent 8 years in a vegetative state awakened after being injected with Valium during a routine dental procedure March 12, 1990. The man has been awakened a number of times since then with injections of Valium. A former airline pilot, the man was injured in a car accident. When medicated, he can remain fully conscious for up to 12 hours at a time and is able to walk and perform complicated math calculations. ("Doctors puzzled by man's recovery from vegetative state", The (Fargo-Moorhead) Forum, 3/29/90, p. A17.]

Interestingly, the majority of these patients awoke after a two-month time frame, which I presume is a lot more hopeful than a decade or more. But, interesting information all the same.


Statement From Tom DeLay

Republicans, many of whom led the charge to focus federal attention on Terri Schiavo, are vowing to hold the judiciary system responsible for rulings in the case that some believe were tantamount to murder.

"This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Thursday after receiving news of Schiavo's death.

"The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another."


Show No Partiality

I was reading the latest Fox News poll that claims 59% of Americans think removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was an "act of mercy." As I was reading the article, my eyes drifted to a side bar. Right there, on the very same page, right next to the statistics of Americans who believe Schiavo's life was not worth living, is a photo of the ailing Pope with the tagline, "Half of Americans say they have said a prayer for the Pope." Hmmm...

The article clarifies that, in fact, 51% of Americans have prayed for the ailing Pope's health.

Terri: Had a feeding tube
Pope: Has a feeding tube
Terri: 41 years old
Pope: 84 years old
Terri: Not on life support
Pope: Breathes with the aid of a breathing tube
Terri: Did not have ability to communicate verbally
Pope: Is losing his ability and cannot speak much now

From this scenario, 59% of Americans were routing for the demise of Schiavo, but praying that God will restore the Pope to health. Is there some reason why we couldn't have prayed to God to restore Terri to health? Isn't reviving a 41-year old women from a brain disorder more feasible that preserving the life of a man who is nearing the end of his life and will eventually, inevitably die?

Here's where it gets even more amazing. 34% of Americans believe that the ailing Pope is still an effective leader and should continue in his role as Pope and not step down and retire. Unbelievable! An 84-year old man on a respirator and feeding tube who can no longer speak or get out of bed can still effectively lead and shepherd the global Catholic Church, while Terri Schiavo, in a similarly unproductive state of being, was sentenced to death.

If removing Terri's feeding tube truly was an "act of mercy" shouldn't the Pope, of all people, be the recipient of mercy? And if you consider it sacrilege to even speculate about removing a feeding tube from the Pope, then doesn't that add further weight to the argument that removing a feeding tube is in fact not an act of mercy at all?

Aren't the lives of Terri Schiavo and the Pope - both created in the image of God -- equally important to the Lord? James 2:1-5 offers us some sobering insight into our of partiality.

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, do not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing the fine clothes and says, "Here's a good seat for you," but you say to the poor man, "You stand there," or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him?

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Terri Schiavo Has Died

CNN, Fox, and all major news stations and websites are reporting.

Fox News
Drudge Report

Please keep Terri's family in your prayers.


Al Mohler Weighs In

Even as Terri Schiavo edges closer and closer to death, the questions posed by this tragedy represent long-term challenges for this culture and its moral conscience.

These questions will not go away, even as the headlines and media attention inevitably subside. Issues of life and death confront us all, and the court-mandated death of Terri Schiavo will, I believe, go down as a landmark on America's moral landscape. Her death will either lead to a recovery of moral sanity or a further slide into a moral abyss. Several vexing questions frame where this culture is headed.

That was the into paragraph to a three-part article series written by Dr. Al Mohler. In these articles, Mohler takes up the following questions:

· What does this mean for the culture?

· What does this mean for the future?

· What does this mean for the courts?

· What does this mean for conservatism?

· What does this mean for other patients?

· What does this mean for doctors?

Click here to read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

(Hat tip to JT)

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Liberal Agenda Now on Life Support

Opinion Journal has been following the Schiavo case from a political perspective. Very interesting.

Who'll Remember Terri Schiavo?--II

Yesterday we speculated that the Terri Schiavo case may help Republicans and hurt Democrats among voters who suffer from disabilities, who have obvious reasons to look skeptically at claims that a low "quality of life" makes life not worth living. We actually visited this issue last year: In September, we noted that President Bush was doing surprisingly well in a Harris Interactive poll of disabled Americans. He led John Kerry 48% to 46%. A similar poll a month earlier had given Kerry a 50% to 40% lead.

Our thought then was that disabled voters were put off by Kerry's clumsy exploitation of the wheelchair-bound Max Cleland, but blogger Ed Jordan offered a better theory, which we noted the following week: that the swing was owing to the Florida Supreme Court's striking down a law designed to save Mrs. Schiavo's life. As Jordan wrote, "there is good reason to believe they are sensitive to the fact that liberals like Senator Kerry want to give them the right to die, while conservatives like President Bush want to give them the right to live."

More reason comes in a Nov. 9 press release from the National Organization on Disability:

In a dramatic shift in support toward a Republican presidential candidate, a clear majority of voters with disabilities chose George W. Bush over Sen. John Kerry in last week's national election. According to a survey conducted by telephone between October 29 and November 1, 2004 by Harris Interactive, likely voters with disabilities preferred President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry by 52.5 percent to 46 percent. . . .

In past presidential elections, people with disabilities have consistently supported Democrats over Republicans by solid majorities. According to Harris Interactive, in 2000, Vice President Al Gore was preferred 56 to 38 percent by likely voters over then-Governor George W. Bush. Bill Clinton carried the disability vote 69 percent to 23 percent over Senator Dole in 1996, and 52 percent to 29 percent over President H.W. Bush in 1992.

NOD's president, quoted in the release, ignores the Schiavo issue and tries to explain the shift in terms of the same issues that affect all voters: terrorism, greater GOP turnout, high turnout among the elderly, who have a disproportionate rate of disability.

This seems unpersuasive. Overall, voters swung from a 0.5% Democratic plurality in 2000 to a 2.5% Republican one in 2004, a shift of three percentage points. The disabled, according to the NOD poll, went from an 18% Democratic plurality to a 6.5% Republican one--a shift of 24.5 points, and of 16.5 points after the Florida Supreme Court acted to bring about Terri Schiavo's death.

To be sure, there is a good deal of imprecision in these polls. They have a small sample size (253 disabled likely voters in the last pre-election survey), and the definition of "disability" leaves considerable room for interpretation. But the shift is so striking, it's hard to discount--and hard to explain except as a response to issues of particular concern to voters with disabilities.

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Food For Thought

According to the press, needing to eat food in order to live now qualifies as "life support." Technically, yes, I guess being dependent upon nutrition is "life support" in the most literal semantic definition. However, with that liberal definition, we must acknowledge that every human being on the globe is then "on life support."

Notice the way Fox News further blurs the lines in an article they posted on their home page this morning.

Many More Cases Like Schiavo's

Data suggest thousands are taken off life support each year

Notice how the headline leads us to believe that there are many more cases like Terri's, but the tagline specifies that, like Terri (supposedly) these similar cases are people being taken off of life-support. When in reality, Terri Schiavo is not on life support!

Reading the entire article does nothing to clear up the confusion, but in fact, simply adds more to the deceptive word-smithing of these journalists. I will give the article an "A" for consistency, but a "D-" for accuracy and integrity. The writer uses "life support" as a synonym for people who have feeding tubes.

I am amazed reading this and realizing that it was written in the 21st century by an educated individual in a civilized country. It is reminiscent of the missionaries who used to speak in my Sunday school class as a child who would tell gruesome stories about savages who buried men and women alive because they were too uneducated to recognize a heart beat and would pronounce sleeping people dead simply because their eyes were closed or they hadn't gotten out of bed for a week.

Let's take a look at the article.

The opening two paragraphs say:

Terri Schiavo is not the first person to have a feeding tube removed, although the public may be left with that impression because of intense media attention and her parents' emotional pleas to have the tube reinserted.

But getting an accurate picture of how often this procedure or stopping other forms of life support takes place in the United States is extremely difficult, partly because of privacy concerns.

Notice how the article states as fact that having a feeding tube removed is just one of the many forms of life support? Since when has eating breakfast been defined as "life support?"

By the third paragraph, the transition is complete. The writer (now envisioning his sheep-like readers in a zombie-like state, eyes ablaze with spinning red spirals, both arms raised horizontally in front of them as they march blindly forward, pulling scraps of mummified cloth from their lips so their faint groans can be heard more audibly) now refers to a feeding tube as "life support" throughout the rest of the article.

Amazing. Simply stunning.

Next thing you know, people who need gravity and oxygen in order to function will be declared comatose.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Irony at it's Worse

How's this for irony, Fox News is reporting that the Pope is going to have a feeding tube inserted into his stomache due to his difficulty of swallowing. According to the definition supplied to us by the Florida Supreme Court, the aging Pope is now dangerously close to a court-appointed death sentance. Thankfully, unlike Terri Schiavo, he has friends in higher places than Florida.

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported Tuesday. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might have to have the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.

APcom said the idea of inserting a feeding tube was a hypothesis that was being considered. The procedure involves inserting a tube into the stomach to allow for artificial feeding.

Earlier Tuesday, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the pope's doctors were considering a new hospitalization next week both to perform tests on the breathing tube and to adjust his diet because of problems swallowing.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

John Farese

The testimony of John Farese

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver. Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, Because I have hoped in Your word. I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight. (Psa 119:71-77)

And He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being... Acts 17:26-28a

John Farese lives in Florida with his brother Paul and sister-in-law Janis and their four children. He enjoys a very productive life, is keenly interested in a variety of sports, and has a special involvement in information technology, including the maintenance of his own Web site. He has been disabled since birth, is paralysed in both arms and legs, and has been unable to sit up for over five years.

I came into this world on 27 August 1956, the second of Vincent and Joan Farese's seven children. My older brother Bernie was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a severely crippling disease that meant that he was never able to walk. So was I - and a younger sister Tina. In each case, the doctors told my parents that the child concerned would not live beyond its eighth birthday. Tina died of pneumonia when she was four years old.

I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and quietly accepted the doctrines taught to me by my parents and the parish priest, especially the idea that a person got right with God by obeying the sacraments of the church. At one stage I was told that if I recited forty-five prayers from a particular Catholic prayer book every day for a whole year I would escape the pains of purgatory and hell, and be immediately accepted into heaven when I died. I never missed a day - but had no assurance that my discipline would pay off.

One special highlight I remember was a trip to Lourdes, in France. My mother took my brother Bernie and me there to seek healing from the Blessed Virgin Mary - but we came back home in exactly the same state as before.

My early years were spent in suburban Boston, Massachusetts, but when I was fifteen my father's business relocated our family to Florida, so we all moved south. Leaving behind relatives and friends in whom I had found a sense of security was devastating to me, yet in God's providence it was to prove the best move of my life. Brought up in a city where Catholicism was a dominant factor, I had come to believe that anyone outside of that tradition was beyond salvation. Yet four months after moving to Fort Lauderdale, and when I was still home-sick for Boston, our next door neighbour invited my mother to a home Bible study. Although we had a large white family Bible in our home, it was hardly ever opened, and I was shocked when my mother accepted the invitation. There was another shock when she agreed to the Bible study leader's suggestion that her son, who was then a freshman at Florida Bible College, might come and talk about the Christian faith to my brother and me

That visit, and others which followed, had very different sequels. Bernie and I were so impressed by what John Tardonia told us about Jesus Christ as the one and only Saviour that we both gave intellectual assent to the gospel of grace and said a 'sinner's prayer'. In Bernie's case, this marked a dramatic change. He began to pray, study the Bible and go to church, and eventually enrolled in Bible College. Even more marked was a radical change in his lifestyle, which now seemed driven by a daily desire to please God.

In my case, the only change was for the worse. I had made some new friends whose lifestyle was rampantly self-centred and immoral, and I pitched in with them, determined not to let my disability keep me from enjoying life to the full. For the next twelve years gambling, heavy drinking, marijuana abuse, weekly visits to strip clubs and frequent engagements with call girls provided a means of escape from the pain, loneliness and emptiness I was experiencing.

Some years after Bernie and I went our separate ways, my younger brother Paul, who was a popular athlete in high school, joined me in the sex and drugs scene, until he went away to College on an athletic scholarship. During his first term, he got into so much trouble that he was on the verge of being expelled, yet when he came home for Christmas two months later there had been an amazing change. Like Bernie, he had become a committed Christian, and he was soon urging me to turn away from my dissolute lifestyle and get right with God. I knew in my heart that he was right, and even prayed with tears that God would change my life, but I loved what I was doing, and found myself unable to break my destructive habits.

At this point Bernie gave me a Bible, which I promised to read, but it sat unopened on a shelf for the next six months, while I went back to gambling, sex and drugs. Yet there was a difference. For the first time, I began to feel uncomfortable doing what had given me such undisturbed pleasure before. I kept remembering my conversations with Paul and my promise to Bernie that I would read the Bible. These nagging thoughts eventually became so strong that I took the Bible down and began to read it. I began at the first page, and in three months had read it right through - but by then I too had become a Christian. It was while I was reading the Sermon on the Mount that God opened my eyes to the truth about my sin, the inability of religion to deal with it, and the need to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. As I did, I was given an assurance that my sins had been forgiven and that I had become a true child of God.

Like most new Christians, I found myself full of zeal. I wanted to be baptized, join a Bible-believing church, and do whatever I could to serve others. I remembered Jesus had said that he 'did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Matthew 20:28) and that 'no servant is greater than his master' (John 13:16). Being bedridden, I was not sure that I could contribute anything to others, but by the grace of God I am able to be of energetic service in ways far beyond anything I had imagined.

In light of my physical condition, I am often asked the age-old question, 'How can an all-powerful God of love allow you to suffer in this way? Surely the Bible says that God always does what is right? Yes it does - and he does! I have come to see that suffering is one of the many ways in which God demonstrates his unfailing love to those who have come to put their trust in him. Writing out of his own painful experience, the Psalmist says, 'It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees' (Psalm 119:71) - and I gladly endorse every word of that testimony.

Among other things, suffering empties us of pride and self-dependence, and makes us realize our complete dependence upon God. When we reach the point where we have nowhere to turn except to God, we begin to get a clearer view of who and what he is. Day by day, I am discovering more and more of his wisdom, love and grace. I am also finding that God's power is made perfect in my weakness, and that 'when I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Jesus went through appalling suffering, physical, mental and spiritual, yet at the end of it all he was to 'see the light of life and be satisfied' (Isaiah 53:11). I count it a privilege to experience in some small way 'the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings' (Philippians 3:10) Although I am bedridden, struggle to breathe comfortably, and often have to contend with painful bed sores, I count them as 'light and momentary troubles' (2 Corinthians 4:17) For all the difficulties they cause, I know that they are achieving for me 'an eternal glory that far outweighs them all' (2 Corinthians 4:17) How trivial they will all seem in the light of the eternal bliss that awaits God's children in the world to come!

One of the psalmists wrote, Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me' (Psalm 66:16) - and I gladly do so. He has turned my mourning into laughter and my desolation into joy. He has made my heart rejoice with 'an inexpressible and glorious joy' (1 Peter 1:8). When I struggled to escape from his grace, he drew me to himself. I bear witness that never servant had such a master as I have, never brother such a kinsman, never spouse such a husband. No sinner ever had a better Saviour than Jesus, no mourner a better comforter. I want none beside him. In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death. In poverty, he is my riches, in sickness my health, in darkness my sun. Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood: and of truth and grace he is full, infinitely full.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Reality Check

I have been pretty disgusted with all the reports today from the major news networks describing death by starvation as a 'peaceful' and 'painless' way to go. How stupid do they think we are? Have you ever fasted for even one day? It is excrutiating!

Raven, who runs a blog called And Rightly So is a Licensed Nursing Assistant in New Hampshire who works with patients living in a Persistive Vegetative State and other serious brain injuries. She has also personally witnessed patients die of starvation.

Here is an excerpt from her latest blog entry:

I have been asked to write about the situation involving Terry Schiavo. Since I work with people who are in the condition Terry is in, I have some things to say. I have been following this story for 5 years now and I also have been in contact with aides who have worked with Terry. It’s sickening.

When people think about COMA’S, they often assume the victim is unconscious and unaware of their surroundings. This is true in many cases, as I have described here before. I work mainly with younger people, but do “float” over to the Adult Brain Injury unit quite a bit. I see lots of Terry’s there. People like her are indeed alive; they are living breathing humans who have survived an often tragic event. Are they who they used to be? No. Will they ever be who they used to be? Probably not. Do they respond to stimuli? Yes. Do they respond to people? Yes. Do they talk? Not usually, but they make eye contact and smile and laugh. And they reach out to you. They are human beings, who tend to like the company of others and…well…like to be alive. Terry smiles a lot, and she seems happy almost all the time. She is not hooked up to any machines.

I have seen some pretty sad things in my work. I have seem little children with G Tubes put to death by their parents, who had decided that their child is not living a “valuable” life. The state often has to get involved in cases like this, but with kids it’s pretty cut and dry: The parents have the final say. All ethics put aside, all arguments about what is a life and what isn’t-the very worst part of what I do is watching others die a slow death. It is horrible and I don’t deal well with it.

By removing nutrition and hydration via the tubes, patients take days to die. They literally dry out. There skin becomes dry and scaly; their lips dry out and then the mouth can no longer open. The person either rolls in the fetal position and stays that way, or they lay out flat. They no longer void and their eyes become sunk in very deep.
I won’t go into anymore details as it is kind of gross, but it isn’t a pretty thing. Usually the docs and nurses do a “terrific” job with pain killers. The dying, supposedly, feel no pain. I don’t think that is ever true. I see them moaning and I have seen little tears rolling out of their dry eyes. The last patient I witnessed being put to death like this took 3 weeks to go. How sweet.

I hate to use the term “put to death” but that is what it is. No need to beat around the bush here and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t that simple. It’s wrong and it’s barbaric. Life is life, and anyone alive who has not made their wishes known should be allowed to live. As to quality of life, who are we to decide what that is?

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The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Fifteen years ago, Terri Schiavo's fate was nothing more than a great Sci-Fi concept brewing in the minds of Rod Serling and Dalton Trumbo. Edgar Allan Poe was considered macabre for pondering the idea of being buried alive. Face it, this sort of horror story is what you expect to find printed among Metallica song lyrics - not the front page of a civilized country's newspaper.

But this once unthinkable storyline has escaped the pages of yesterday's novel and become a reality. World Magazine has just printed an article this week entitled, "Don't Let Me Starve." The article is about Kate Adamson, a recovered stroke victim who survived a fate similar to Terri Shciavo's. It is a chilling article.

A decade ago, Mrs. Adamson, then 33, suffered a double brain stem stroke that left her completely paralyzed, unable even to blink. Inside though, she was fully cognitive, able to understand doctors telling her husband she would either die or wind up "a vegetable." She wanted to, but couldn't, scream out when "people talked about me as if I wasn't a person, as if I didn't exist. . . . It was like being trapped underground and you're praying that somebody is going to be able to find you.

During 70 days of intensive care, doctors fed Mrs. Adamson through a tube. Then her digestive system failed, forcing them to remove the tube until her body could again eliminate waste. For the next eight days, she learned what it feels like to starve.

Unable to communicate, she remembers the terror of being "on the inside screaming out, 'Feed me something! I don't want to die! . . . I'm alive! I'm a person in here! Do not let me starve!' The hunger pains were unbearable," she said. "I thought I was going insane."

On the ninth day, doctors reinserted her tube. Now at age 43, Ms. Adamson has regained most of her physical abilities and become an advocate for the disabled.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

The Truth is Hard to Swallow

National Right to Life has posted this information on their website.

Terri is in a coma or comatose-like state.

None of Terri’s doctors currently maintain that she is in a coma. Some doctors believe that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state while others disagree and believe that she is “minimally conscious.” Most Americans have seen footage of Terri interacting with her mother by now and it is hard to ignore the way in which she appears to light up at the sound of her mother’s voice.

Important note:

The definition of PVS in Florida Statue 765.101:
Persistent vegetative state means a permanent and irreversible condition of unconsciousness in which there is:

(a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of ANY kind.
(b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.

Terri is on life support. Terri requires machines to live.

To state that Terri is on life support or that she requires machines to live implies that Terri is dependent upon what has traditionally been considered life support, such as a ventilator, heart machine, or kidney dialysis.

Terri is a healthy woman with a disability and she is not hooked up to any machines as has been widely reported. She breathes on her own and merely receives nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube, much the same as a baby is sustained by the nutrition he or she receives through a bottle.

Terri’s parents refuse to let her go and allow her to die.

Terri is not terminally ill — she is a healthy woman with a disability. To induce someone’s death by denying him or her nutrition and hydration is an act of starvation. Terri’s parents have asked for Michael Schiavo to step down as her legal guardian and allow them to care for their daughter.

Terri’s case is a right-to-die case.

This claim is disputed. Terri’s parents and siblings say that she does not want to be starved to death and are asking the courts to allow them to care for her.

Death by starvation and dehydration is painless.

Florida law does not allow a dog to be subject to death by starvation, so why should Terri, a human being, be sentenced to such a death?

In Wesley J. Smith’s book, Forced Exit, St. Louis neurologist William Burke said:

“A conscious person would feel it [dehydration] just as you or I would. They will go into seizures. Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining. They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water! Death by dehydration takes ten to fourteen days. It is an extremely agonizing death.”

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Vatican Calls for Keeping Terri Alive

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican newspaper on Monday criticized the removal of a feeding tube from a brain-damaged Florida woman, saying nobody can claim the right to decide whether a human being lives or dies

Who can, before God and humanity, pretend with impunity to claim such a right?" L'Osservatore Romano said. "Who — and on the basis of which criteria — can establish to whom the 'privilege' to live should be given?"

The remarks from the Vatican paper, which reflected earlier comments from several Vatican prelates, came after the U.S. Congress passed a law in an emergency session giving Terri Schiavo's parents the right to file suit in federal court over the withdrawal of nourishment and medical treatment needed to sustain their daughter. President Bush has signed the bill.

"Who can judge the dignity and sacredness of the life of a human being, made in the image and likeness of God? Who can decide to pull the plug as if we were talking about a broken or out of order household appliance?" the paper said.

"In a Miami hospital there's a woman who is about to die from hunger and thirst. There is the slow dying of a person — not a 'vegetable' — which an impotent world is witnessing through TV and newspapers."

The 41-year-old woman's feeding tube was removed Friday on a Florida judge's order. Schiavo could linger for one or two weeks if the tube is not reinserted — as has happened twice before, once on a judge's order and once after Gov. Jeb Bush signed "Terri's Law," which was later declared unconstitutional.

The paper said that the case "is shaking America" but added that "in the ongoing debate, the lowest-level political controversy and the subtle game of legal tricks often end up prevailing."

Schiavo suffered severe brain damage 15 years ago. Her husband says Schiavo told him she would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. Her parents say she needs treatment and another opportunity for life.

"Terri's long, heartbreaking agony today is the agony of the meaning of God, the lord and creator of life," the paper concluded. "It is the agony of the love that can bend over the frail and needy. It is the agony of mankind."

Earlier this month, the Vatican's point man on bioethical issues, Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, said removing Schiavo's breathing tube would be a direct act of euthanasia and "a pitiless way to kill."

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Terry's Cry For Help

The Empire Journal is reporting a thorough account of Terry's last visit with her attorney.

On Friday, March 18, less than an hour after Sixth Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer defied subpoenas issued by a Congressional committee for Terri Schindler-Schiavo to appear as a federal witness in a Congressional investigation, attorneys for Terri’s parents, Mary and Bob Schindler, visited Terri to tell her that the death order was going to be executed and that she would die.

When asked by her parents and their attorneys if she wanted to live, Terri Schiavo made two conscious attempts to say “Yeah” and began to cry when told that her husband, Michael Schiavo, would be removing her feeding tube on orders of Judge Greer, which would result in her death by starvation.

The Empire Journal has obtained an exclusive, first hand last visit narrative by Barbara Weller who with David Gibbs III of the Gibbs Law Firm of Seminole, Fl., is representing the Schindler family in their efforts to save Terri’s life.

The most dramatic event of this visit happened at one point when I was sitting on Terri’s bed next to Suzanne. Terri was sitting in her lounge chair and her aunt was standing at the foot of the chair. I stood up and learned over Terri. I took her arms in both of my hands. I said to her, “Terri if you could only say ‘I want to live’ this whole thing could be over today.” I begged her to try very hard to say, “I want to live.” To my enormous shock and surprise, Terri’s eyes opened wide, she looked me square in the face, and with a look of great concentration, she said, “Ahhhhhhh.” Then, seeming to summon up all the strength she had, she virtually screamed, “Waaaaaaaa.” She yelled so loudly that Michael Vitadamo, Suzanne’s husband, and the female police officer who were then standing together outside Terri’s door, clearly heard her. At that point, Terri had a look of anguish on her face that I had never seen before and she seemed to be struggling hard, but was unable to complete the sentence. She became very frustrated and began to cry. I was horrified that I was obviously causing Terri so much anguish. Suzanne and I began to stroke Terri’s face and hair to comfort her. I told Terri I was very sorry. It had not been my intention to upset her so much. Suzanne and I assured Terri that her efforts were much appreciated and that she did not need to try to say anything more. I promised Terri I would tell the world that she had tried to say, ”I want to live.”

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Friday, March 18, 2005

The Death Penalty

Below is a description of the quick, painless, merciful death that criminals in the United States receive when being put to death for heinous crimes. This information is relevant because Terry Schiavo (who is not a criminal) will die in roughly one to two weeks. Her death will be long, grueling and painful. Ironic that Scott Peterson will be treated with more compassion by our legal system than Terry Schiavo.

Lethal Injection:

The drugs are administered, in this order:

  • Anesthetic - Sodium thiopental, which has the trademark name Pentothal, puts the inmate into a deep sleep. This drug is a barbiturate that induces general anesthesia when administered intravenously. It can reach effective clinical concentrations in the brain within 30 seconds, according to an Amnesty International report. For surgical operations, patients are given a dose of 100 to 150 milligrams over a period of 10 to 15 seconds. For executions, as many as 5 grams (5,000 mg) of Pentothal may be administered. This in itself is a lethal dose. It's believed by some that after this anesthetic is delivered, the inmate doesn't feel anything.

  • Saline solution flushes the intravenous line.

  • Paralyzing agent - Pancuronium bromide, also known as Pavulon, is a muscle relaxant that is given in a dose that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm and lungs. Conventionally, this drug takes effect in one to three minutes after being injected. In many states, this drug is given in doses of up to 100 milligrams, a much higher dose than is used in surgical operations -- usually 40 to 100 micrograms per one kilogram of body weight. Other chemicals that can be used as a paralyzing agent include tubocurarine chloride and succinylcholine chloride.

  • Saline solution flushes the intravenous line.

  • Toxic agent (not used by all states) - Potassium chloride is given at a lethal dose in order to interrupt the electrical signaling essential to heart functions. This induces cardiac arrest.

Within a minute or two after the last drug is administered, a physician or medical technician declares the inmate dead. The amount of time between when the prisoner leaves the holding cell and when he or she is declared dead may be just 30 minutes. Death usually occurs anywhere from five to 18 minutes after the execution order is given. After the execution, the body is placed in a body bag and taken to medical examiner, who may perform an autopsy. It is then either claimed by the inmate's family or interred by the state.


Terry's Tube Removed

The feeding tube that has kept Terri Schiavo alive for 15 years has been removed, said Suzanne Vitadamo, her sister. The move comes amid a flurry of legal activity focusing on the brain-damaged woman Friday, including two very different orders handed down by two judges. Seven years ago Schiavo's husband, Michael, and her parents began a legal tug-of-war over whether to have her feeding tube removed and allow her to die.

Ironically, Scott Peterson received the death sentence for killing his wife while Michael Schiavo will recieve a million dollar inheritance for his. Also ironic is that as a criminal, Scott Peterson's death will be relatively quick and painless, while it is estimated that Terry will slowly die over the course of one to two full weeks. What is wrong with this picture?

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Miracle Baby Has First Birthday

DECATUR, Ga. — Emmanuel Hawkins celebrated a birthday Wednesday that he was never supposed to live to see.

For 16 weeks after his mother lapsed into a coma brought on by an assault, Emmanuel continued to grow inside her womb. Doctors tried to persuade his grandmother, Nonnie Hawkins, to end the pregnancy. They warned her that even if Emmanuel was born, he could be severely deformed — or stillborn.

"I told them, 'I rebuke you.' I have the final say," Hawkins said. "I'm believing my child is going to wake up and have this baby."

But after 114 days, Tara Hawkins-Bottoms never woke up. The 18-year-old did, however, stay alive long enough to give birth on March 16, 2004, to a 2-pound, 10-ounce boy.
"God delivered him," Hawkins said.

Her daughter was taken off life support two days later.

Born three months premature — very weak and barely breathing — Emmanuel was not expected to survive 24 hours. He was hospitalized for 10 weeks with medical problems that included a bacterial infection and low blood pressure, and he had to have heart and eye surgery.
"He was as close to death's door as you can get without entering," said his doctor, neo-natologist Bridget Cobb. "To come from those circumstances is just miraculous to me. It was a reminder to me that I am not in charge."

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The Final Countdown

Fellow blog-buddy JT posted this info on his site today.

Today the Senate and House will decide whether or not to pass The Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act of 2005, which grants people like Terry Schiavo her due-process rights of habeas corpus when a court orders that their nutrition, hydration, or medical treatment by removed. If the legislation does not pass, Terry will begin starving to death tomorrow.
Mel Martinez, freshman senator from Florida, was the co-author of the legislation. He summarizes it and urges us to act in an
op-ed for National Review Online. The easiest way to contact your congressmen is by going here and typing in your address and zip code.

Here's what JT wrote to his senators and to my represenative. Feel free to copy and paste it as your own. It only takes about five minutes to e-mail both of your state senators, please do so and tell others also.

Dear _____:

I urge you to vote in favor of The Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005, to grant people like Terry Schiavo the due-process rights of habeas corpus when a court orders their death by removal of nutrition, hydration and medical treatment.

This woman is being deprived of her full constitutional rights, and such legislation would ensure fairness and justice to her and others like her.

Thank you for your consideration, and for serving our state.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

From the Mouths of Babes

The semantical inconsistencies amid the current Sanctity of Life/Abortion debates are growing ever fuzzier. Up until now, abortion has been winked at because you aren't killing a "baby" but just a "fetus." However, look at the Freudian slip on the home page of the Fox News website:

The link on the home page reads:

Scott Peterson was sentenced by jury to die for killing his wife and her fetus.

Click on that link and here is the first paragraph of the article:
REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — A California judge indicated on Wednesday he will sentence convicted double-murderer Scott Peterson to death.

Is Fox News (and the Redwood City legal system) conceding that ending the life of a FETUS -- what Pro Choicers refer to as a mere mass of dead tissue -- is in fact....murder???


Monday, March 14, 2005

Red, White, and (Black and) Blue

As of last week, there are 11,285 more disabled Americans than there were just four years ago. Why? Because brave men and women - men and women born strong and healthy - willingly put themselves into harms way and fought with their lives in the War on Terror.

Time Magazine has done a cover article on the wounded soldiers in their latest edition.

Every war mutilates in its own way, leaves its distinctive marks. In this war, unlike battles past, only 16% of injuries were caused by gunshots, according to a study; 69% were from explosions--the roadside booby traps, the car bombs, the rocket-propelled grenades. The vast majority of injuries are to arms and legs left vulnerable even as body armor is protecting vital organs. The amputation rate of 6% of wounded soldiers is twice that of earlier wars. But in addition, doctors are seeing new injuries, some of them inconspicuous compared with the shredded flesh of bombing victims. Traumatic brain injury occurs when the shock from an explosion damages neurological fibers. Soldiers may survive a blast with scarcely a cut, only to find over time that they suffer coordination and memory loss, dizziness, insomnia. Some have to learn to walk again--or to recognize their wives and children.

Please keep the wounded American and Iraqi soldiers and their families in your prayers.


Friday, March 11, 2005

The Real Million Dollar Baby

JT beat me to the punch once again. Here is an excellent article by Chuck Coleson about Katie Dallam, the woman that the movie Million Dollar Baby was more than likely based on.

Rick Lyman of the New York Times has also written an article about Katie.

The Independent also has a very long, but very thorough biographical account of Katie's accident and post-injury lifestyle.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Daniel Cruver

This tribute was written by a dear friend of one of my coworkers. I had the pleasure of once briefly meeting Daniel before he died. This article is in response to a very disturbing, not to mention completely FALSE, statment in the article in my previous post: We are not talking about children that have anything to teach us, other than new depths of human pain and misery. Who in their right mind would let their child suffer unbearably to satisfy such irrational perverse nobility?
There is no such thing as a suffering child who does not have anything to teach us.
A Father's Tribute to His Son and His God
By Dan Cruver, South Carolina

Our precious Daniel William Cruver II was born on October 12, 1999. When he was thirteen hours old, our seemingly healthy baby boy began experiencing seizures. After one week in NICU and many tests, we were sent home with no diagnosis and some seizure medication. Throughout the next several months Daniel's seizures continued unchecked by medication. As he grew healthy and strong physically, we noticed that he was not reaching any of his developmental milestones. Our Daniel never smiled, cooed, turned his head, rolled over, sat, crawled, talked, or walked. The doctors of Duke, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Johns Hopkins concurred with our local doctor that Daniel had some unidentified type of incephalopathy that was causing his seizures and preventing his development. Our family and friends around the world prayed with us for healing and for the grace and strength to meet each challenge. We settled into life accepting Daniel as the sweet and helpless son and brother that he was.

Every day God answered our prayers. He abundantly provided the grace and strength we needed. On October 13, 2002, the day after Daniel's third birthday, God began to reveal His answer to our prayer for healing. As an ambulance rushed us to the hospital after Melissa (Mommy) administered CPR to Daniel, we began to realize that Daniel's disability was not static. We repeated this scenario two more times until on November 4, 2002 Daniel was placed on a ventilator and was admitted into the PICU. Daniel's seizures had taken away his ability to swallow. This inability was causing him to aspirate on his own secretions. On November 19, 2002, God answered our prayer for healing. Our answer was not for physical healing but for spiritual healing. Our good and gracious God took Daniel from this world of pain and suffering. On that day our baby heard the words, "Welcome home, my child!"

The following tribute, written by Dan (Daddy), was read November 21, 2002 at the memorial service for our son. You may hear that service on sermon audio at

In the midst of his suffering, Job spoke these words: "My days are past, my plans are broken off, even the desires of my heart" (Job 17:11). For the first time in our lives these broken words of Job echo the substance of our thoughts and the emotions of our hearts. Surely it is the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away; blessed be the name of our Lord.

We prayed for healing. But should God, in His gracious wisdom choose not to grant healing, we prayed that God would take Daniel gently and tenderly. We asked our God for grace. Grace to let Daniel go for His glory and Daniel's eternal joy. We prayed that God would sanctify our deep distress unto us; that He would continue to work through Daniel's testimony in the days, months, and years to follow; that He would keep us from being overcome with regret and guilt, and that the Great Shepherd of the sheep would minister intimately to Daniel's spirit in those moments of passing from this world to the next.

We prayed knowing that God gladly hears the cries of His children. And though He did not grant all of our pleadings, we put our hands over our mouths and bow our heads in worship of our Sovereign God. Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases." Our God does whatever He pleases. So with heads bowed in worship we say, The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending was pleased both to receive our requests and to take our beloved son, Daniel. Again, we put our hands over our mouths and worship. Worthy is our God, who in His unspeakable grace was pleased to bruise His own Son, to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing for He has done what He has pleased with our little Daniel!

While Daniel was with us, we were the ones who were free, we were the ones who could walk and talk and sing and play and smile and touch and kiss. His was to sit quietly and take in a world that he could not understand or enjoy. But now things are quite different. The tables have been turned. Daniel is now the one who is free and we are the ones who remain in these bodies of death. We are the ones who groan with all of creation to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Daniel has that freedom which we all desire. Yet we with Daniel groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. So we cover our mouths and worship the God who will one day make all things new.

Daniel's life's seed has fallen to the ground and died, but will now bear much fruit. The flower of his joy has just begun to bloom and its blooming will be without end. We rejoice that Daniel's three years of almost unrelenting suffering are over. May the Christ who has carried our sorrows and sufferings be praised! Unlike Lazarus, who was raised by our Christ only to die once more, Daniel lives never to die again. The One who is the Resurrection and the Life has granted to Daniel not only an abundant, overflowing life of intense consciousness, but such life as is everlasting. We say to our son, "Daniel, we grieve not only for our loss of you, but also for our sin-induced blindness and unbelief in the face of the most weighty moments of our lives. But though we grieve we also rejoice in your inheritance! And Daniel, we wish to go HOME too. We love you and through your life we have grown to taste more of God's goodness. O Daniel, our great hope, amidst our grief, is that Jesus paid for all our sin. And one day, with you our son, we will stand complete before the throne." So our hands cover our mouths and we worship the majestic God who made our precious Daniel.

Daniel was God's silent little preacher. He has preached and we have listened. So we praise our God who has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and in that choosing gave us Daniel for a short, but deeply treasured time. We cover our mouths and worship the God whose strength is made perfect in weakness; blessed be the name of our Lord.

I close this tribute with words from a friend: "What a ministry little Daniel has had in our lives! More powerful in many lives than the wasted worldliness of those who grow old for nothing. Weep for your loss, and weep for those who have never tasted so much of God and eternity. Things are not what they seem."

Click here to see a picture of Daniel.

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The Groningen Protocol

Here is an excerpt from an article posted on

The Groningen University Hospital gives you the facts behind The Groningen Protocol:
The Groningen Protocol has five criteria: the suffering must be so severe that the newborn has no prospects of a future; there is no possibility of a cure or alleviation with medication or surgery; the parents must always give their consent; a second opinion must be provided by an independent doctor who has not been involved with the child’s treatment; and the deliberate ending of life must be meticulously carried out with the emphasis on aftercare.

I think L-rs said it best in his excellent commentary on this infamous Groningen Protocol:
We are not talking about children that have anything to teach us, other than new depths of human pain and misery. Who in their right mind would let their child suffer unbearably to satisfy such irrational perverse nobility?
In The Netherlands, the majority would not.

Who in their right mind would let their child suffer unbearably? God, for one.

Isaiah 53:4-5 says of Christ, "Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted."

My parents, for two. In my case, every dire prediction that the doctors made about my life ended up being not true - however, this fact was not observed until I became of age and the behavior could be observed. If I had been terminated as an infant, the doctors never would have realized that I indeed was not blind, brain damaged, mentally retarded, and unable to speak as they said I was. Whether I was healed by God or misdiagnosed, I do not know. What I do know is that I love life - scars and all - and am glad that some doctor "practicing" medicine didn't play God and decide to end my life based upon the way things "looked" when I was a week old.

Note the human will that underlies all five of the stipulations of the Groningen protocol.

1. The newborn has no prospects of a future.
How can that be accurately determined? What about misdiagnosis? What about severe physical deformities with no brain damage? How do you draw a distinct boundary line around a prospective future when analyzing a day-old baby? I am also curious how the doctors define "suffering" as most infants, especially those in vegetative states, will probably never "suffer" in that they are unaware of their lives in contrast to reality. It is the parents who suffer and so I wonder if that is not what infant euthasia is primarily designed to relieve.

2. No possibility of a cure.
With the sophistated advancement of medical research, technology, and the ever-chaning scene of medicine and medical breakthroughs, how can one determine that a baby born today could not be cured during the course of his or her lifetime? This protocol also rules out prayer, miracles, misdiagnosis, and God's intervention.

3. Parents must give consent.
Here, the entire fate of the child is being decided upon by fallible human beings with no omniscient knowledge of their baby's future or the future of medical research.

4. Must have a second opinion - consent of the doctor.
Again, the fate of the child is put into human hands. A moral choice is made on behalf of a newborn infant who cannot speak on its own behalf. The decision is also made prematurely before the baby is alive long enough to be observed or thoroughly diagnosed.

5. Deliberate ending of life must be meticulously carried out with thought of aftercare.
Finally, we have one point that seperates the Groningen Protocol from Adolph Hitler and Dr. Joseph Mengle. Yet, aftercare creates a bit of a paradox. Showing mercy to the parents of a child who you refused to show mercy to.

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Human Dignity on Trial

Doug Groothuis, a professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary has just written an editorial on the Terri Schiavo case for The Rocky Mountain News.

In a hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., lives a young woman who is quite alive, yet quite unlike most of you reading these words. Since 1990, she has not been able to swallow or to communicate as most of us do.

However, she smiles and cries, kisses her parents and utters a few simple words. She is not on life support. She receives nutrition through a tube instead of chewing and swallowing. She is not in a coma. She is not in a persistent vegetative state as defined by Florida law.

To read the rest of the article, click here.


No More Tears

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

I don’t have tear ducts. This is one of the many results of my birth defect. This means, that my tears run down my face instead of draining properly. So, I am constantly wiping tears off my cheek which has led to the question I get on an almost daily basis, “Are you crying?!” Through the years, I have heard many responses, but the most interesting was from a coworker who said, “God must have never wanted you to cry.”

Hearing such a response from a non-religious person really convicted me. At that point in my life, I had done a lot of crying and I was ashamed when I realized that most of my tears were rooted in the sod of self-pity. I determined at that moment that from that point forward I would cry “for the glory of God.”

I figured that determining what made Jesus Christ cry would be a pretty safe place to start. Scripture gives us three accounts of Christ crying: weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), weeping at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35), and weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion (Luke 22:44). I put these accounts into three categories:

  1. Weeping over hard hearts that do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah
  2. Weeping out of grief over the loss of a loved one and/or seeing others we love grieving.
  3. Weeping over the thought of being separated from God and falling under his wrath and condemnation.

The reason I concluded (#3) that Christ’s tears in the garden were the result of being separated from his Father and having the wrath of God fall upon him instead of simply saying that Jesus was crying because he was afraid of death and the pain of torture lies in Matthew 10:28 where it says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” I am confident that if God requires us, as mere mortals, to face death without fear that his Son, Jesus, modeled that for us perfectly without contradiction or failure.

I doubts that Christ was looking forward to it or that he enjoyed the torture, but I don’t think that is why he was crying. Christ knew his death would ultimately repair the separation between him and God and remove God’s wrath, this is why Hebrews 12:2 says, and “It was because of the JOY set before him that Christ endured the cross.”

Christ was right to weep over the thought of falling under the wrath of God and we overlook a valuable, beautiful, life-saving Truth if we reduce his tears in Gethsemane to, “Jesus was scared to die.”

There is another interesting tidbit that seems to weave these three accounts together. Christ wept in Gethsemane and three days later he rose from the dead. Christ wept over Lazarus and three minutes later Lazarus rose from the dead. It leads one to assume that the hard hearts in Jerusalem, embalmed with the tears of Christ, will also one day resurrect.

I conclude, therefore, that God is honored when we weep over hard hearts that reject Jesus as the Messiah (John 14:6), death or grieving along with others who are grieving (Romans 12:15), and facing the wrath of God without a Redeemer (Romans 2:5). Another instance where I believe it is glorifying to God to cry, and a scenario Christ could not possibly have modeled for us, is to weep over our sin.

Finally, it is interesting to me that the American culture has a stigma against men crying, sighting it as a sign of “weakness.” However, the Bible comes to a radically different conclusion – showing us a Man who wept and whose tears were so strong, they raised the dead.

A faithful and serious pondering of these things will revolutionize the way we live, the way we pray, and…the way we cry.

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Right to Cry

These two headlines appeared right next to each other on the Fox News website this morning:

Right-to-Die: Who Decides?A majority of Americans agree with a Florida judge's ruling that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed

Ailing PontiffHalf of Americans say they have said a prayer for the pope’s health

A new poll is stating that 59% of Americans agree that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube should be pulled. Directly under that link is a story saying that 51% of Americans have prayed a prayer for the ailing pope.

There is a chance that with prayer that Terrri Schiavo could be healed or at some point show improvement. (I'm thinking here of the woman who snapped out of a coma after 20 years). There is zero chance, however, even with prayer, that the 84-year old ailing Pope will cheat death. It seems that logically and statistically, the one with a greater hope for survival and health is Terri. And yet, America isn't praying for Terri, they are online taking Fox News Polls in favor of the Florida Supreme Court's decision to pull her plug.

I also think it is interesting that this poll was posted today -- a mere week after the movie Million Dollar Baby raked in a handful of Oscars. I'd like to think that life is imitating art in these recent stats, but a quick (and very depressing) Google search has shown me that in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Euthanasia is favored anywhere from 59-86%.

This, however, should not shape facts or determine Truth. Scripture says, "There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end, it leads to death." I think also of Noah. There were only eight people in the ark, but clearly, they had the right idea.

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Keeping Hope Alive

Tonight: Thursday, 10pm / 3am ET on the Greta Van Susteren show (Fox News Channel)

Greta talks to Mary and Bob Schindler, parents of Terri Schiavo, talk about their struggle to save their daughter’s life.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rock On!

Here is a really interesting article about Joe Grushecky

Over the past two decades, he's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for all kinds of causes, including headlining a sold-out (in 57 minutes!) "Flood Aid" benefit concert last December in Pittsburgh with his good buddy Bruce Springsteen.

He's a musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, music arranger, recording artist -- and he leads what's been described in top music publications as "one of the best bar bands in America." Moreover, a song he co-wrote with Springsteen recently won a Grammy for best solo rock vocal performance ("Code of Silence").

Do you know him? Probably not.

Here's the lowdown on Pittsburgh's Joe Grushecky.

Grushecky, 56, is a highly acclaimed, almost-famous rock and roller, who, along with his band, "The Houserockers," still fills small and medium-sized nightclubs nationwide. They've also toured overseas a few times in venues packed with appreciative audiences.

But that's just a hobby. His day job involves teaching developmentally disabled, physically disabled and emotionally disturbed kids -- a high burnout career, and he's been doing it for more than 25 years.


Till Starvation Do Us Part

Fox News is now reporting that Terri Schiavo's parents have filed for divorce from Michael Schiavo on Terri's behalf. Even if she dies as the result of one of the eleven motions filed in favor of her death sentence, she could posthumously be granted the divorce.

If this tactic should work, one would assume Michael Schiavo would lose the multi-million dollar inheritance payable upon his wife's death.

Terri's parents are perhaps optimistic that once the money is taken out of the picture, Michael will hand over all rights to Terri's parents and move on with his life. However, I am skeptical. If you succeed in prying a million bucks out of this guy's greedy, white-knuckled grip, you're probably going to have a bloody fight to the death. And in this case, I mean that literally.

All skepticism aside, I hope I'm wrong. If so, I will be more than happy to eat my words.

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Boxing the Straw Man

I have to get in at least one more Million Dollar Baby post (seeing as I doubt anyone will be talking about this film ever again in another week or so). It dawned on me last night that the storyline really went out of its way to make the Swank character’s life unbelievably pitiful -- poor, trailer trash, daddy’s dead and he’s the only one who ever loved me, scrimping dimes from a dive café’s tips to make ends meet. Wow – talk about every cliché in the book! And even after the accident – as if being paralyzed isn’t enough – they had to make a point to also amputate her leg, and have a desperate, over-the-top scene with the family all huddled around Swank’s bed, shoving a pen in her mouth, trying to greedily have her sign all her money over to them. Wow – it all really pulls at the heartstrings, doesn’t it?

But, is it realistic? Is the deck stacked that ridiculously against people in real life? Or was Swank’s character designed to draw on the sympathies of the audience by subtly lulling them into the “there’s nothing left for her to live for” myth?

We must watch movies with discernment. I know no one likes the party pooper who is always saying, “That would never happen in real life!” But it is a question that needs to be asked, especially in films like this where ethics that go against our cultural norms are being applauded.

We must watch movies with all of our “eyes” open (not just the ones in our head). Be consciously aware of the fact that the finale of a movie is grounded in all of the previous actions and decisions of its characters. So, when all of the scenarios, experiences, and outcomes of these decisions and actions are completely inconsistent to how the situations would really play out in real life – we have a problem. Undiscerning movie-goers leave the theatre questioning their current worldview, not even realizing that the outcome of the film was based on a dozen or more previous outcomes that never would have played out that way in a real-life situation.

Eastwood commits the “Straw Man” crime in this movie. A Straw Man argument is when a person ignores a person’s true position and substitutes it with a distorted or exaggerated viewpoint. Million Dollar Baby distorts and exaggerates the position that most quadriplegics have about the value of their lives. At the end of the movie, the “poor, miserable” quad who is put to death may appease a weeping audience, but it does not appease the real quads who, unlike Eastwood, have lived and experienced that life and know for a fact that despite all of the inconveniences and bad days, life is worth living. Life is a greater gift than two legs or boxing career. This is why rock climbers who get pinned under rocks in the middle of nowhere would rather painfully saw their own limbs off with a dull Swiss Army knife than be left there to die. We value our lives above everything and that is a fact that needs to be kept at the forefront of our minds before we walk into a movie theatre.

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