Terri Schiavo was a seven-year (1998-2005) court case between Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, and her biological parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. In 1990, Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage that doctors explained that it resulted from a lack of potassium and enough oxygen in the brain, she was proclaimed to be in a vegetative state. In 1998, the husband petitioned under Section 765.401(3) for the removal of life-supporting feeding tubes used to sustain Terri’s life; she would then die of malnutrition (Lynne, 2010). This paper discusses the ethical issues surrounding the case.
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Case ethical issues
Michael filled a case to let Terri Schiavo die in peace after the disconnection of the tubes supporting his life. He argued that it was not her intention to have her life supported in an un-natural way thus he saw it was ethical if the tubes could be removed and let her die. On the other hand, the parents were willing to spend and go the extra mile to see their daughter recover. The point of contention in the case was the views of the doctors that gave no much hope for the recovery of Terri.
This is a case of pro-life and pro-choice arguments; Michael was a pro-choice person who felt that justice would have been done to his wife if left to die since given a choice she could not have wanted her situation to be as she was. She had a choice to die or live. On the other hand, Bob and Mary Schindler were pro-life, they felt that their daughter’s life is precious thus should be protected at all lengths and costs. They even quoted her religious faith as a catholic and the faith did not allow for termination of one’s life. after 14 appeals and numerous hearings, the case was ruled in the favor of Michael, and Terri was disconnected from the life-supporting tubes on March 18, 2005. She died twelve days later (Lynne, 2010).
The concept of DNR, Living Will and Durable Power Of Attorney in the case
DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Orders) are orders given to a medical practitioner by a patient that in case of heart failure, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should not be used to maintain his or her life. In the case of Terri Schiavo, she had not given such directives, on the other hand, her condition was on brain damage and not the heart thus DNR was not applicable. A living will is an advance directive whereby a person describes the kind of treatment that should be given to him or her in case of life-threatening conditions. It cannot be delegated but the patient himself decides on medical treatments or life-sustaining treatments. In this Terri Schiavo case, she had not given a living will describe how she would like to be treated.
A durable power of attorney is a delegation to another person to make decisions on medical treatment by a person in cases of unconsciousness. In the case of Terri, this is the most contentious issue. The fact that Michael was the husband can be deemed to have the power of attorney to make medical decisions on behalf of his ailing wife (Eisenberg, 2003).
The right to make the final decision
In my opinion, Michael had the right to give directives on how his wife should be treated. Looking at the situation and considering ethical issues, Terri would more likely have given her husband durable power of attorney. On the other hand, Terri’s condition was deteriorating and hopes of her survival minimal; the husband was acting logically.
Eisenberg, D.(2003). Jewish perspectives on living wills and issues regarding nutrition and hydration in the terminally ill patient. Web.
Lynne, D.(2010). The whole Terri Schiavo story. Web.