Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Crucial Hearings Today and Tomorrow

On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will go before Judge Greer regarding their motion for a stay on the removal of Terri's feeding tube pending their investigation of abuse charges against Michael Schiavo. Some have theorized that Judge Greer is legally bound to grant the stay, but what Greer will actually do is anyone's guess.

This afternoon at 3:00, the Schindlers attorney David Gibbs will once again go before Judge Greer, this time to request that further testing be done on Terri to ascertain her real condition. The Schindlers, as well as a number of doctors, have long disputed Judge Greer's ruling that Terri is in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS).

To back up their request, the Schindlers have affidavits from a number of doctors and other professionals with expertise in diagnosing and treating brain injuries. The Terris Fight website reported last weekend that 17 doctors had come forward to support the call for new testing. However, the Schindlers attorneys inform me that they will have more like 29 affidavits to present to Judge Greer today, some of them from well-respected neurologists.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, neurologists I have spoken to have all registered disbelief and dismay upon learning that Terri has never had MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans of her brain. Most neurolgists regard these tests as standard diagnostic tools for evaluating the extent of brain injuries.

Reading through the doctors' affidavits on the Terri's Fight website, one finds that many of these doctors say the same thing: Terri should be given the MRI and PET scans. They also make mention of the Functional MRI and SPECT tests, which are capable of actually measuring and mapping the function of the brain.

Will Judge Greer actually consider this evidence? Given his track record, one has little cause to be hopeful. But any reasonable person, seeing all of these doctors calling for the same thing, would be inclined to say: "Why not do these tests?" The question for Judge Greer isn't why these tests should be done, but why any reaonable person would refuse to allow them.

Judge Greer Rules Against Schindlers Across the Board:
Seems Intent on Her Death

Corrected and Updated 3/8/05, 1:50 PM EST: Based on a news story from the St. Petersburg Times and a follow-up call to Mary Schindler, I've made a few corrections. Thanks to Media Culpa for the heads-up.

I spoke with Mary Schindler on the phone last evening, and she gave me some discouraging news on yesterday's hearings in front of Judge Greer.

Firstly, Judge Greer is holding true to his stated intention to entertain motions only pertaining to Terri's "death process" and her final disposition:

Judge Greer denied, without hearing arguments or evidence, the Schindlers' motion to compel Michael Schiavo's deposition.

Judge Greer denied, without hearing arguments or evidence, the Schindlers' motion for a divorce of Terri from Michael.

Judge Greer denied, without hearing arguments or evidence, the Schindlers' motion to remove Michael as guardian.

Judge Greer heard, but did not rule on, arguments that Terri should be fed by mouth once the feeding tube is removed March 18.

Judge Greer denied, without hearing arguments or evidence, the Schindlers' request that Terri be allowed to receive Viaticum (Holy Communion for the dying) by mouth. Judge Greer ruled that if Terri is to be given Communion, it must be done via her feeding tube.

Judge Greer denied the Schindlers' motion to allow their daughter to die at their home, noting the parents can visit the Pinellas Park hospice where she lives.

Judge Greer denied the Schindlers request to have Terri's intact body interred: He confirmed Michael's order that Terri is to be cremated upon her death.

He denied the Schindlers motion to allow Terri to be buried in Florida. Michael intends to inter her cremated remains in Pennsylvania.

Judge Greer's rulings against the Schindlers on the matter of feeding by mouth and viaticum seem to me most indicative of his frame of mind: By precluding attempts, as a "last ditch" measure, to feed her by mouth, the Judge shows that his object is not merely to stop what he might argue (erroneously) is an "extraordinary" means of support, but to see to it that she dies. One might make an analogy to someone on a respirator: frequently respirators are removed from patients, but sometimes they continue to breathe on their own without support. It is as though a judge were to order not only that a respirator be removed, but that the patient's mouth and nose be sealed with duct tape, just to make sure he can't get any air by any means.

Judge Greer's order makes him an active accomplice in directly intending Terri's death. It becomes harder and harder to see how this can be described as anything but judicially ordered homicide.

And by confirming the order to have Terri cremated, thus precluding an autopsy, he certainly give the appearance of cooperating in an effort to make sure that the full truth of Terri's condition is never ascertained.

The order regarding Viaticum, besides being cruel and bizarre (only the tiniest fraction of the Host or the tiniest drop of the Precious Blood need be placed on her tongue), serves to preserve Michael Schiavo and George Felos' contention that Terri cannot receive anything by mouth. Of course, they have never permitted a swallowing test, so we just have to take their word for it. The last thing they want is the spectacle of Terri taking anything by mouth, as that might cause people to start wondering if Terri might just be able to eat.

From George Felos' standpoint, though, that should hardly make a difference: In Terri's '98 hearings, Felos infamously advocated what he called the "spoon test". The test of whether one is a person with a full right to life, he said, is whether he/she can raise a spoon to his lips unaided. If you have a relative who is paralyzed or otherwise unable to feed himself, watch out: In George Felos' world, they're fair game for his tender advocacy of their "right" to die.

If George Felos and Judge Greer get their way, Florida will be a very, very bad place in which to be unlucky enough to get sick, have a stroke, or become incompetent. Someone will be standing by, ready to relieve you of the burden of your existence.

A Medical Fraud

That's what the doctors in Michael Schiavo's employ, and Hospice of the Florida Suncoast seem to have perpetrated in order to get and keep Terri Schiavo in hospice care for over five years.

Dr. Victor Gambone of Tampa certified, on March 3 of 2000, that Terri was terminally ill, and that the course of her disease could be expected to end her life within six months of that date. (The document is not available online, but I will e-mail a copy of it to anyone who e-mails me and asks for it.) Dr. Gambone signed his name to the statement "I expect this patient has a limited life expectancy of six (6) months or less, if disease continues to take its usual course, and hereby certify this patient as eligible for Hospice care." 

The problem, of course, is that Terri was not then suffering from any disease process which could have been expected to end her life in the forseeable future. Nor does she suffer from any such disease process now. If she dies, it will be because she is starved and dehydrated to death upon the orders of her husband.

In order to be eligible for hospice care, ordinarily one must have a life expectancy of less than six months. So how did Hospice of the Florida Suncoast come to accept Terri as a patient when she didn't meet the criteria?

Oh, that's right... Michael Schiavo's attorney and "death-with-dignity" advocate George Felos was, until recently, thechairman of the Board of Directors of the Hospice.

You know the saying, it's not what you know but who you know...

New E-Report: A "Window" On The Faith & Culture

Deal Hudson was a thorn in the side of the Catholic Left during his tenure as publisher of Crisis magazine. With his new E-Report, called "The Window", he promises to continue to confound those who confuse their Liberalism with their Catholicism.

The inaugural issue of The Window is an analysis, in the wake of the '04 election, of "How the Catholic Left and Pro-Abortion Democrats Are Preparing for the 2006 and 2008 Elections." Make no mistake, those who would like to transform our Faith into something more closely resembling leftist ideology are wasting no time preparing for the next go round in the battle over Catholic witness in the Public Square.

Hudson, in this issue, offers a list of initiatives that "progressive" Catholic are undertaking even now. Among these initiatives are:
Overturn the Legacy of John Paul II — Left-wing Catholics and dissidents tell themselves that the papacy of John Paul II is a temporary set-back. They view the Catholic Church inevitably going "beyond" its dependence on the authority of bishops and the teaching of the Magisterium.
Hudson is spot-on here. Liberal Catholics have been saying for years that the pope is trying to "turn back the clock" to the pre-conciliar period, that he is "absolutist", etc., ad nauseam. Within a month after Pope John Paul II goes to his eternal reward, the NCReporter, America, and designated acceptable Catholics in the mainstream media, will be publishing articles calling for a more "flexible" Pope, who is more "in tune with contemporary society" (read: more accepting of contraception and homosexuality), who will "moderate" the Church's conservative turn under JPII. The articles are already sitting on their word-processors, waiting to go to press.
Leading Pro-Abortion Democrats Reach Out to Pro- Lifers — We have already heard messages along this line from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and new DNC chairman Howard Dean.
Of course, this is a smokescreen, but in order to prove their sincerity, the Democrats will
Showcase a Pro-life Candidate — A February 16th poll was released showing that Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., son of the late Governor, would beat Senator Rick Santorum by five percentage points.
Bob Casey will be the poster boy in the Democrats "We Don't Want To Kill Every Unborn Child" campaign. There are already a fair number of pro-life Democrats at the local and state levels. But they have no influence whatsover in setting the Party's agenda. The proof of the Dem's sincerity will be their willingness to entertain any meaningful restriction on the abortion license. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. You shouldn't, either.

Build a Virtual Fence Around Parishes before Elections — We already saw this happen last year. Many parishes and some bishops constructively banned voters' guides which pulled no punches about the priority of life issues in Catholic teaching, such Catholic Answers "Voters' Guide For Serious Catholics". They will work all the more diligently in the next election cycle to see to it that the Catholic faithful continue to receive milk & water and pablum.

To subscribe to "The Window", you can send an e-mail to The Window at MorleyICC dot com .