Monday, February 21, 2005

Why Terry Schiavo isn't Sarah Scantlin

Boston.com / News / Nation / Woman finally speaks after two decades in silence:
Scantlin's father knows she will never fully recover, but her newfound ability to speak and her returning memories have given him his daughter back. For years, she could only blink her eyes -- one blink for ''no,“ two blinks for ''yes” -- to respond to questions that no one knew for sure she understood.
This is the state of Sarah Scantlin, who recently regained the ability to speak and move much of her body after years in a coma-like state.

The differences between her and Florida's Terry Schiavo are instructive. Terry Schiavo is in a vegetative state after a heart attack. Her husband, following her stated wishes, has asked that she be taken off her feeding tube and allowed to die naturally. Her parents claim that those are not her wishes, and have sued to keep her on life support, in hopes of a miraculous recovery.

Schiavo is in a vegetative state, Scantlin was in a coma. Here's the difference:
A coma is a profound or deep state of unconsciousness. The affected individual is alive but is not able to react or respond to life around him/her. Coma may occur as an expected progression or complication of an underlying illness, or as a result of an event such as head trauma.

A persistent vegetative state, which sometimes follows a coma, refers to a condition in which individuals have lost cognitive neurological function and awareness of the environment but retain noncognitive function and a perserved sleep-wake cycle.

It is sometimes described as when a person is technically alive, but his/her brain is dead. However, that description is not completely accurate. In persistent vegetative state the individual loses the higher cerebral powers of the brain, but the functions of the brainstem, such as respiration (breathing) and circulation, remain relatively intact. Spontaneous movements may occur and the eyes may open in response to external stimuli, but the patient does not speak or obey commands. Patients in a vegetative state may appear somewhat normal. They may occasionally grimace, cry, or laugh.
While Schiavo has reflex responses to the world, there is no higher brain activity, and research indicates that there is no chance she will ever recover that level of brain activity. Scantlin was capable of responding to questions with different numbers of blinks.

Those in the anti-choice movement who claim that Scantlin's case affects Schiavo are liars. Look how GOPUSA abuses the husband and the truth:
Recently, another presumed “brain-dead” woman made news in Kansas. In a coma after becoming the victim of a drunk driver, Sarah Scantlin snapped out of a twenty year silence and began to speak. Memories are now coming back to her. By legal definition, Miss Scantlin's life is valid. Yesterday, it was not. Was she ever in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS? She'd respond to questions by blinking once for no, twice for yes, but since she couldn't speak no one was ever sure she understood the questions.



Whenever people discuss euthanasia, you'll always find those who will defend the odious practice. However, no one defends domestic violence. That leads to the 6 ft. 6 inch, 250 pound problem: Michael Schiavo. The evidence compiled against him suggests a history and pattern of domestic abuse against Terri and other women that is strong and significant. An immediate criminal investigation is warranted.
This is the same GOPUSA which runs Talon News, and sent a male prostitute to cover the White House. How they get to sit on their high horse and judge a husband for making an incredibly personal and difficult choice, I don't know.

The family's response to this is to offer him cash incentives to divorce his wife. In short, they want to buy her from him. He has refused these offensive overtures and stood by his wife's request not to remain on life support indefinitely.