Daily Archives: April 8, 2005

Who Would Want to Live with Disabilities like These?

updated below
That’s what Beth Gaddy (36) said about her “Grandmamma” Mae Magouirk (85). The entire quote is as follows:

Grandmamma is old and I think it’s time she went home to Jesus. She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?

I first heard about this story yesterday via my friend Jeanette at Oh How I Love Jesus. Today, I see that other bloggers have picked up on it, including Instapundit, Mover Mike, GOP Bloggers, Polipundit, and Junk Yard Blog.

Mae Magouirk has signed a living will stating that she doesn’t want feeding and hydration if she is terminal, in a coma or vegetative. Mae is not in any of these conditions. Her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, moved her to the hospice telling them that she held a medical power of attorney for her grandmother and that she wanted food and water removed. Gaddy did not have a medical power of attorney for her grandmother. Other, closer, family members (Mae’s brother and sister) are fighting for her life.

Unlike Terri’s case, there is clear direction given in a living will for care. This is being ignored by the granddaughter and the probate judge in Georgia who disregarded the living will and the lack of a durable medical power of attorney and gave guardianship to the granddaughter over the objections of closer relatives.

At 36, Beth Gaddy might not want to “live with disabilities like these”, but let her wait until she’s 81, maybe with the same disabilities, or more disabilities or worse disabilities. How much will she “want to live” then?

After Christopher Reeves’ accident, many people said, “I wouldn’t want to live like that.” They said so as able-bodied people. Christopher Reeves probably said something along the same lines when he was younger and not disabled. Once the accident took place though, he wanted to live his life to the fullest that he could.

No one wakes up one morning and says, “I want to have a disability that will effect my life forever.” When it happens, though, you live with it. You make changes to accomodate the disability. You may not be able to do some things that you enjoy anymore, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find something else to enjoy that you can do.

I have a disabled daughter. She has epilepsy, a developmental delay and moderate hearing and vision losses. She doesn’t speak much, or very clearly. What will happen to her after I’m gone? Will someone, somewhere ask, “who would want to live with disabilities like those?” Would someone, somewhere decide that her life is not worth living, or that resources expended on her would be better spent elsewhere? And then decide to “euthanize” her?

Update: Dirty Harry says:

So, I await the outrage from the butchers who screamed for Terri Schiavo’s head. After all wasn’t their argument that we needed to respect Terri’s wishes? Well, we have a living will here. Let’s see if the death merchants are consistent and outraged that this woman’s “wishes” are being violated. Wishes she put in writing. Wishes that are being ignored. Let’s see if the death merchants fight to reinsert this feeding tube because all this really is about is what the patient wants, not getting rid of troublesome invalids. “Oh, no, not us.”

Update 2: The Glenn Beck Show audio of the interview with Mae’s nephew is here.

Welcome Anchoress and Cathouse Chat readers, please look around.

Little Changes That Become Big Changes

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune had a column April 1st titled Beware of letting the unacceptable become the norm.

He speaks about Terri Schindler Schiavo and wonders what is next…

I suppose that no matter which side of this you’re on, you’ll have questions. Those of you who think she should have died will wonder: When will people like me ever shut up about this?

And those of us on the other side will wonder which disability will next be judged as not affording an adequate quality of life? Whose lives are worthy?

But there is another question that won’t let go of me: How did we get to this place, where we’ve come to accept what was done to Terri Schiavo?

What was once horrible has now become acceptable, familiar the way a landscape becomes familiar. No matter how gruesome or spectacular, over time you become used to it. Eventually, you can walk through it without feeling any need to comment.

And that’s what’s being urged now, a general consensus forming by those who don’t want to hear complaints, that it’s time to be silent about Schiavo, that we shouldn’t give offense, that we should accept her death as inevitable, perhaps rationalize her death as a blessing.

When John heard the announcement on the radio he was reading a column by John Leo in US News and World Report who quoted Rev. Richard Neuhaus, editor of First Things.

He says he will memorize this quote. I think I will too.

“Thousands of ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable, until it is finally established as the unexceptional.”

There was a day when the Playtex Cross Your Heart bra was advertised on television and the model wore the bra OVER a turtleneck sweater. Underwear, worn normally, was just not shown on television. Now Victoria’s Secret advertises bras with a lot less coverage directly on the model. This change was accepted completely.

There was a day when anti-perspirants and deodorants were advertised on television and the model demonstrated the product on the inside of the forearm. The brother of a friend of mine, when first using these products, put it on his armpits and on his forearms, because they did it on television. Armpits were just not shown in a television commercial. Now we see women applying the product correctly in television commercials. This change was accepted completely. We don’t see men applying the product though. I guess a man’s armpit still is just not shown on television.

Rob and Laura Petrie of the Dick Van Dyke show had separate twin beds in their bedroom. Two characters of the opposite sex, even if married, were just not shown in the same bed on television. Then came NYPD Blue and we saw the naked backsides of two male characters. This change was accepted completely.

These changes are insidious, they happen when we aren’t looking and then become accepted. It becomes “well, we can do this, so why can’t we do that?

Remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” That seems to have changed to “Do unto others whatever you can get away with, and if you get caught, put the blame on anything and anyone other than yourself.”

High on Facts Low on Speculation

The Washington Post has an article about the Schiavo Talking Points Memo. This time it’s pretty factual, detailed and balanced. One certainly isn’t left with the impression that a bunch of Senators sat in a conference room and decided to come up with a way to exploit Terri Schiavo. On the contrary, it looks like the political portions of it were disavowed when seen. It also seems that it may have been a working draft (which would explain the errors).

Imagine if this level of detail had been reported from the outset. Sure, there would have been some views like this:

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said he believed that the memo originated with the GOP because it is “totally consistent” with how the Republicans have operated for the past four years.

But that’s just a classic attempt to paint the entire group as having the same views as a single errant member, and we all know it when we see it, especially from the likes of Mr. Biden. That’s a far, far, cry from implying in a story that the entire group was in on it.

To those bloggers that feel we need to eat crow on this, I say no way. When the press makes explosive political charges with so little (or conflicting) facts and takes a “trust us we know” approach, you’re going to get speculation running rampant from both sides of the blogosphere. This was a story that was poorly reported from the outset, and one that clearly erred on the side of branding all Republicans political opportunists. They were more like Joe Biden than trusted purveyors of the news. Don’t blame me for thinking the worst of them. The media lost my trust long ago.