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Terri-Schiavo

Discuss how moral relativism and utilitarianism apply to this issue.

The Terri Schiavo Controversy

This is an information presentation about the different opinions Terri Schiavo's parents and husband had about ending or preserving her life.

Background

In 1990, Terri Schiavo became severely mentally disabled after her heart stopped momentarily, cutting off the oxygen supply to her brain. According to doctors, Terri was in a "vegetative" ("Terri Schiavo's Life," 2003) condition; however, she was able to breathe without medical help and respond to stimuli.

Terri Schiavo had no living will, which created a great deal of debate regarding her end-of-life decision. The center of debate was withdrawal of life-sustaining medical equipment. Terri Schiavo needed a feeding tube to sustain her life, which her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, sought to remove. Terri Schiavo's parents, however, felt that her life should be sustained using the feeding tube. A legal controversy ensued over which guardian should determine medical care when there is no living will.

Terri Schiavo's Parents

Terri Schiavo's parents believed they were able to communicate in some ways with their daughter, and so did not believe she was truly in a persistent vegetative state.
Robert Schindler, Terri Schiavo's father, said, "You can see it's [removing the feeding tube] taking its toll where her face is getting shallow, but she still was responsive. And talking, but with no volume, like it's very, very low" (Hannity & Colmes, 2005).
Her parents also disagreed with Michael Schiavo about whether their daughter would want her feeding tube removed.
Terri's mother, Mary Schindler, stated that she believed if Terri Schiavo had ever told Michael Schiavo she did not wish to be kept alive by artificial means, "I don't think she was ever talking about [removing] a feeding tube. My daughter would not want to be starved to death. No one would want to be starved to death" (Hannity & Colmes, 2005).
Terri Schiavo's Husband

Michael Schiavo said he wanted to remove the feeding tube based on a verbal statement Terri Schiavo made to him prior to her hospitalization (Roh, 2005). Michael insisted that he was trying to carry out Terri's wishes regarding her end-of-life care.

Michael Schiavo argued that his fight to remove the feeding tube was "about the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of your personal decisions, your choice" (Olbermann et al., 2006).

Solution Preview

Dear student:

I enjoyed assisting. I know this case well and while it is sad, it is an eye-opener.

The Terry Schiavo case is a sad case, as there were no winners. This case should be a lesson learned to all to ensure that everyone has a living will in place to avoid such a disaster.

The moral relativism of the situation was in regard to ...

Solution Summary

Discuss how moral relativism and utilitarianism apply to this issue.

The Terri Schiavo Controversy

This is an information presentation about the different opinions Terri Schiavo's parents and husband had about ending or preserving her life.

Background

In 1990, Terri Schiavo became severely mentally disabled after her heart stopped momentarily, cutting off the oxygen supply to her brain. According to doctors, Terri was in a "vegetative" ("Terri Schiavo's Life," 2003) condition; however, she was able to breathe without medical help and respond to stimuli.

Terri Schiavo had no living will, which created a great deal of debate regarding her end-of-life decision. The center of debate was withdrawal of life-sustaining medical equipment. Terri Schiavo needed a feeding tube to sustain her life, which her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, sought to remove. Terri Schiavo's parents, however, felt that her life should be sustained using the feeding tube. A legal controversy ensued over which guardian should determine medical care when there is no living will.

Terri Schiavo's Parents

Terri Schiavo's parents believed they were able to communicate in some ways with their daughter, and so did not believe she was truly in a persistent vegetative state.
Robert Schindler, Terri Schiavo's father, said, "You can see it's [removing the feeding tube] taking its toll where her face is getting shallow, but she still was responsive. And talking, but with no volume, like it's very, very low" (Hannity & Colmes, 2005).
Her parents also disagreed with Michael Schiavo about whether their daughter would want her feeding tube removed.
Terri's mother, Mary Schindler, stated that she believed if Terri Schiavo had ever told Michael Schiavo she did not wish to be kept alive by artificial means, "I don't think she was ever talking about [removing] a feeding tube. My daughter would not want to be starved to death. No one would want to be starved to death" (Hannity & Colmes, 2005).
Terri Schiavo's Husband

Michael Schiavo said he wanted to remove the feeding tube based on a verbal statement Terri Schiavo made to him prior to her hospitalization (Roh, 2005). Michael insisted that he was trying to carry out Terri's wishes regarding her end-of-life care.

Michael Schiavo argued that his fight to remove the feeding tube was "about the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of your personal decisions, your choice" (Olbermann et al., 2006).

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