B, a girl in several of my classes, is the president of the UF Pro-Life Association and is strongly in favor of everything conservative. No abortion, no sex before marriage, and certainly no death for Terri. She wears anti-abortion buttons on her backpack, a large cross around her neck, and a Gators for Terri shirt. She maintains that X-rays have shown lots of trauma, suggestive that Terri's husband beat her. Guess what, B? Terri was bulimic. Bulimia, like any eating disorder, wreaks havoc on your body - not only do you lose way too much fat, but you lose bone mass and lean muscle mass (which means your bones break a lot more easily when, just as an example, a medical team does aggressive CPR in an attempt to save your life!). Also, eating disorders in the extreme stages cause potassium imbalances, which can lead to - you guessed it - cardiac failure! Which is the reason we're all embroiled in this in the first place.
(And may I just say - I know eating disorders are very real diseases, but if someone is to the point where her heart is stopping, I doubt that the people close to her were all that in touch with her problems and best interests. Hmm, guilt complex, anyone?)
When I first heard about this case, my first opinion was, "Quit fighting over this poor sack of skin. There's nothing left in there, anyway. Since the parents are willing to take her, just let them take her, and stop saturating the entire world with this story." But when I talked to my parents about it, Dad explained, "If they do that, it sets a legal precedent. Her husband is first in line in the decision-making process. If they overrule him, it means that my letting my spouse know my wishes wouldn't necessarily be enough anymore. If someone else decided they wanted to keep me alive artificially, this case would give them the authority to fight your mom over that decision, and win. We could no longer be certain that our true wishes would be carried out."
The solution I thought of right then was to add a few questions to our driver's licenses. They always ask if you want to be an organ donor - why don't they go a step further and let our licenses also be living wills? I don't really know anything about living wills - how long they are, what-all they entail - but it seems to me that if they can ask about organ donation, they can just as easily also ask if we would want to be kept alive by artificial means, if we want to be buried or cremated, et cetera. It would be in writing and irrefutable, not only on the license, but in the DMV computer system. Sure, not everyone has a driver's license, but the vast majority do. Cases like this - deciding whether or not to take someone off life support - occur far more frequently than most people realize, and I think doing something like this would cut down on the problems by far.
Internet, hear me now - if doctors ever determine that I'm brain dead, for goodness sakes, take out any and all living bits of me that other people can use and then let me die! I find it hard to imagine that anyone would want to be kept alive like that - a sack of skin sucking up hospital money and resources while there's no hope in hell of recovery. Not to mention the toll it takes on the family involved - proper grieving and moving on after a death is impossible when the physical being is still 'here', lying in a hospital bed. The only thing I can fathom that would make someone choose option B is that people might be worried about the possibility of themselves still being 'in there somewhere'. Look, we are living in a miraculous age of technology, so let's trust it. It's simple to tell the difference between a vegetative state - from which you don't ever recover, like Terri - and a coma, from which various degrees of recovery are possible. Nobody's going to chuck you into the ground without being sure. And if it's the religion thing, well, read that essay I posted a link to last week. As that woman said: why are the religious folk, who claim to be at peace with the idea of death, the ones who insist that their souls will go on exactly as they are after they die? It seems to me that those who believe there's nothing afterwards have, in accepting that, made the bigger leap of faith.
In closing... a question for Bush and his Republican drones. It's all about the money for you guys, right? So how come you're so hell-bent on keeping Terri and others like her alive? The cost-effective thing to do would be to just let them go, wouldn't it? And you know what else? If you'd quit holding our country back and let us do stem cell research, we might be able to grow brain cells within just a few years. Heck, we might already have been able to. Cases like Terri's might already be a thing of the past. Think about that.
(Hey, Osama, buddy - since we so kindly ignored you in favor of a totally unrelated country, think your bomb squad could do the Democrats a favor in return? You know what I mean.)