TERRI SCHIAVO; Silence Is Risky

Article excerpt

It was one year ago today that Terri Schiavo, having wasted away from 13 days with no food or water, took her last breath, ending what all sides agree was a story of terrible human tragedy.

That is where the agreements end. Some portray Schiavo's death as an important victory for the "right to die." Others see it as a cruel act by an unfaithful husband. It could have been either.

Schiavo, we do know, lapsed into a severely disabled state after suffering cardiac arrest in 1990, able to breathe on her own but incapable of taking care of herself. Two years later, a jury awarded her husband $1 million, $700,000 of which was to go for her perpetual care.

He filed a petition to end the use of feeding tubes six years after that, however, saying she had once confided in him that she wouldn't want to be kept alive indefinitely. Her parents fought in court to keep that from happening, insisting she never would have said that.

On the one hand, Terri didn't have a written directive -- and, under those circumstances, the spouse normally should be the one making the life-and-death decision. …

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