Terri Schivao case brings out personal thoughts on life and death

Published 7:45 pm Friday, March 25, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - There are many facets to the issue of life support, which is generally thought of as a means of keeping a patient alive with the help of a breathing machine.
However, in the case of Terri Shiavo, whose brain was deprived of oxygen 15 years ago, she is breathing on her own. She has been in what some doctors call a "vegetative state," and life support for her consists of a feeding tube through which she receives both nutrition and water.
Shiavo's husband feels that she would not want to continue living in this state and sought court approval to remove the feeding tube so that she could be allowed to die.
The controversy over this issue, brought to national attention recently, concerns not only the right of her husband versus the right of her parents to decide her welfare, but brings to light other issues as well.
Niles residents were recently asked their opinions on the courts' latest ruling that allowed Shiavo's feeding tube to be removed and not reinserted.
Darin Haynes of Niles said, "It's a bad thing. It's a shame they're doing that, to see somebody suffer like that."
Jodie VandenHeede of Niles saw a political side to this issue. "I think there's an ulterior motive to it. I think the politicians are laying the groundwork to become a right-to-life issue. What everyone's opinions are about right-to-life is a whole 'nother can of worms and I'm not going to go there," she said.
Nancy McCreedy of Niles also considered the political ramifications. "I think Congress should never have been called in. It already went through the judicial court system and was decided. I heard on representative say on tv that to bring back Congress, how many dollars did we spend when there are hungry children out there? Personally, I wouldn't want a body like the congress ruling on my private life," she said.
Sherman Harding of Niles considered the overall picture of the situation. "I don't know. I have mixed opinions whether to take out the tube or not. I think they are making a big deal out of this one issue. There are a lot of people like that we don't think about," he said.
Ron McGuire, 12-year-old of Niles thought about the family connection of parents and child. "I think they should let her parents decide whether to take it out or not. They lived with her longer and know her better. And they're the ones that have to suffer," he said.
Jeanninie Severeid of Niles looked at the issue from a spiritual standpoint. "This life is a temporary gift. Where she'll go will be a wonderful place. She'll be free of pain and whole again. We all want our loved ones to be here with us. We're selfish in that way. But how can we wish her to be here and not in a better place? Also it makes people think about the power of attorney and getting a living will," she said.
Deanna DelMuro of Niles related to the burden of caring for someone who is incapacitated. "They shouldn't remove the feeding tube. She's not going to live forever. If her husband doesn't want to take care of her, he should let her parents take care of her and he can get on with his life," she said.
Lindsay Ray of Niles who works with disabled adults has an inside perspective.
"I guess in one way, her husband wouldn't want her to live. But since she's breathing on her own, maybe they should leave it. I see a different factor because of the population I work with. To starve her to death seems rather cruel," she said.
Art Bishop of Edwardsburg has had his own health issues that give him personal insights on the subject. "I'm torn between the family and what's right. If there was some hope that in the future they could restore her brain, I could understand why they'd want to keep her alive. I had a stroke a while ago and it made me decide to get a living will. I told my doctor that if I ever have a brain injury and was never going to be right again … well, I'd never want to live like that for 15 or 20 years on some kind of mechanical device. She's been in a vegetative state for 15 years, so should they just let her die? I can't say 'yeah, she should die'. I know for myself personally what I'd want. I feel for her family, but I just don't know," he said.