My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


If This Doesn't Qualify As Cruel And Unusual, I Don't Know What Would

By now, we've all become, to some degree, inured to the pictures of Terri Schiavo--she appears, at this point, to be not much different than many unfortunates we have all known who suffered through brain trauma. But I (admittedly, morbidly) have been curious about what these pictures will start to look like--if we're allowed to see them--as she progresses through the next 7 - 10 days dying of dehydration and starvation. And I found a site that answers some of those questions. Admittedly, this site quotes a nurse who has worked with Terri, and who does not support the "Exit Protocol", as it is called.

The site is hard to read, so I'm going to extract some of the "highlights", but here's what poor Terri is in for:

:obviously, extreme hunger pain is going to be a constant part of her life--excuse me, HAS BEEN a part of her life for the last 81 hours or so.
:as dehydration advances, her electrolyte balance will be off, causing her to writhe
:Advance a couple days without food or water. Now her mouth is parched, her lips, her gums, her tongue will start to crack and bleed. The nasal cavities will start to dry, crack and bleed. The stomach will get dry and shrink, causing vomiting and heaving
:she will begin to experience difficulty breathing
:In seven to nine days, as most of her body fluids are lost, her blood pressure will go down and her heart rate will rise. The blood will be shunted to the central part of the body from the periphery of the body, so that usually two to three days prior to death, the hands and feet become extremely cold. They become mottled and have a bluish appearance. The eyes will become so dry the patient can't move them anymore because there will be fluid in them.
:she will begin to have isolated seizures, which may or may not progress into Grand Mal seizures.
:at this point, death is imminent.

And, I note, this site doesn't go into detail on the damage that will be done to the internal organs, what will shut down first and so forth. Let's suppose that an injunction comes in on Wednesday night--how much irreparable damage will have already taken place?

So, as I am preparing to take my family to Good Friday services, Terri will be cold, mottled and blue, with fixed eyes and in extraordinary pain. And she may not die until I'm preparing to take my family to Easter services.

I would not wish this death on Osama bin Laden. And if we, as a society, cannot recognize this for what it is and find a way to prevent it, than we only barely deserve every other right God has granted us and our founding fathers codified for us. While the logic of the legal wrangling can leave some people I respect immensely on the other side of this issue, I'm convinced logic is inadequate to this topic. Logic is only useful when it serves our humanity; the law is only useful when it enlarges our humanity; and when the two brought together serve our better angels, we have the hope of creating a brighter tomorrow.

When the two brought together serve to destroy our most defenseless, then our humanity is a subject of pointless, hypothetical debate.

To be clear: if our Judiciary cannot come to the conclusion that this death violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on Cruel and Unusual and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of Equal Protection, then this Judiciary is not worth the trouble it takes to employ them, and any other ruling they ever hand down is not worth the paper it is printed on.

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