As Harriet McBryde Johnson says, "The Terri Schiavo case is hard to write about, hard to think about." I've had an emotional deer-in-the-headlights response about it for quite some time now. Months. And while the legal options for saving Terri Schiavo from starvation may have been exhausted, I'll offer here some writings by others that provide the disability perspective so lacking in the mainstream debate.
Harriet McBryde Johnson on Slate, via Disability Law:
In addition to the rights all people enjoy, Ms. Schiavo has a statutory right under the Americans With Disabilities Act not to be treated differently because of her disability. Obviously, Florida law would not allow a husband to kill a nondisabled wife by starvation and dehydration; killing is not ordinarily considered a private family concern or a matter of choice. It is Ms. Schiavo's disability that makes her killing different in the eyes of the Florida courts. Because the state is overtly drawing lines based on disability, it has the burden under the ADA of justifying those lines.
Steven Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet:
Given the current research regarding brain activity and misdiagnosis, it's a virtual certainty that countless people have been helpless to prevent their own deaths through starvation and dehydration. There's an analogy to DNA evidence and the death penalty. Here in Illinois, the staggering numbers of innocent and wrongly convicted people on Death Row resulted in a moratorium on the death penalty. Whether you agreed with the death penalty or not, everyone was forced to find ways to make sure no innocent person ended up on Death Row again. The same amount of concern should apply to medically induced deaths, in which the numbers far exceed the number of convicted people executed each year.More by Stephen Drake:
People on the right are killing us slowly with cuts to the budget and Medicaid while the people on the left kill us quickly and call it "compassion" -- either way we end up dead -- AND WE OBJECT.
Ragged Edge Editor Mary Johnson's outstanding comments at Common Dreams:
There isn't a single disability rights activist I've heard from who is happy that things ended up at such a sorry pass, and who isn't afraid that this will make liberals hate them even more than they now do. Yet it cannot help being noticed that it generally depends on whose ox is being gored as to what side of the states' rights debate one comes down on. We're all for federal laws when it comes to things like civil rights -- and gay marriage. We're not, though, when it comes to things we've labeled as "right to die" -- which we say are "privacy issues."
We might want to take another look at the cost of such privacy.
Further links to follow here.