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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I agree with Matthew Yglesias and disagree with Jim Henley

In particular, I think that, as usual, Yglesias hits the nail on the head arguing that, on this issue, one shouldn't leave "legalities aside".

However, I also disagree with Henley in another way. I certainly agree with one important thing he says "If the experts are correct, there’s no suffering to prolong. It means nothing to her [Theresa Schiavo] either way. The best you can say about the evidence as to her wishes is that it is minimal. That leaves the vigorous living as our scope of concern."

However, I disagree on the important point of how to serve the interests of the Schindlers "if Terry Schiavo’s parents are willing to assume “custody” of her and provide for her care, why would that not be an acceptable outcome for all concerned? Michael can have a divorce and remarry. His [sic Her] parents get the fulfillment they wish or the punishment they deserve." I think it is clear that the Schindler's will not get fulfillment they wish if Theresa Schiavo is left in her current state of pseudo life. I do not believe that people ever deserve punishment (although punishment is sometimes necessary). Henley wants to obey the wishes of the Schindlers, but his attitude towards punishing them reminds me of Eugene Volokh.

I don't think that anyone deserves to suffer, but surely no one deserves to suffer the way the Schindler's are suffering, nor should a parent be punished for unwillingness to acknowledge the death of a child.

Henley writes " Killing her would, on all evidence, cause her parents grievous woe" which is certainly true, as the death of a loved one always does. However, they are already suffering this greivous woe, their belief about what should be done is based on a denial of reality and does not reflect their true interests. My heart goes out to them, so I want to end their suffering by ending their desperate refusal to accept what has already happened.

I'm sure that, in the unlikely event that Henley noticed this post, he would consider my attitude to be illiberal and patronizing. It is. However, I note in my defence that I am not proposing depriving the Schillings of rights because they don't know what to do with them, but only arguing that they should not be given special rights denied to all other citizens in order to enable them to further delay their possible acceptance of their tragic fate.


On the other hand maybe Henley is right and I'm wrong. The Schindlers are adults. If they would choose to feed their (to my mind late) daughter through a tube and she is effectively deceased, liberalism and deference to the (to my mind unhealthy) opinions of adults would imply that Michael Schiavo could just as well let them have their way. Also when Henley wrote "legalities aside" he didn't mean "we should set the legalities aside" but rather "if the legal issuess hadn't arisen."

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