Conservatives and disabled rights groups hold that this is a landmark case where a guardian's judgment was disputed, but ended with a court order to remove nutrition and hydration from a human being, not otherwise at risk of death, and deprived her of her right to life.
Liberals and groups such as the ACLU hold this was a private matter and the actions of the Schindlers interfered with the guardianship authority of Michael Schiavo and the privacy rights of Terri Schiavo.
Advocates indicate that the rate of living will creation has increased since Terri Schiavo died. An alternate mechanism is for a person to name a close relative or one whom they trust to speak for them, granting him or her power of attorney for medical issues.
Paul Schenck's organization, NPLAC, has commissioned a sculpture to Terri Schiavo entitled Compassion.
The case prompted bishop William Skylstad, president of the USCCB, to ask the Vatican Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith some questions as to the moral theology in such cases. The reply of August 1, 2007, released by the Holy See on September 14, 2007, was, to the questions posed:
- First question: Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a "vegetative state" morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient’s body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?
- Response: Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.
- Second question: When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a "permanent vegetative state", may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?
Schiavo's case has focused attention on end-of-life medical ethics.
Read more about this topic: Public Opinion And Activism In The Terri Schiavo Case
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