Monday, March 27, 2006

Remembering Mrs. Schiavo

It was a year ago that the ordeal surrounding Terri Schiavo ended, and her earthly shell was allowed to rest. In looking back over my blogging of the issue, one post remains especially relevant:

Mrs. Schiavo entered her coma because of a heart attack induced by malnutrition. She was malnourished because she was bulimic. She didn't die because of courts, liberals, God, or her husband. She died because of an eating disorder.

Why hasn't there been any prominent discussion, in 15 years, of the dangers that bulimia poses? 11 million people in the U.S. have bulimia (10 million women). In a country with ~150,000,000 women, that's about 7% of women.

Couldn't a specialist in eating disorders get squeezed in between the pictures of Randall "We have a biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country" Terry and protesters getting arrested? Couldn't CNN recap the situation one less time to encourage people with bulimia to get help? Couldn't a couple minutes be carved out of the slander directed at Mr. Schiavo in order to save some lives?
It's been a year since the President rushed to Washington to sign a bill interfering with the right of a person to have her expressed wishes carried out, the right of a person to make difficult choices about the end of life for herself and to have those wishes carried out. It's been a year since Republicans in Congress, the White House, and the Florida government all decided to get in between a husband, his wife, and a difficult decision.

It's been a year since Bill Frist asserted that his medical expertise was sufficient to contradict every doctor who examined her in person, and it's been a year since an autopsy conclusively proved him wrong. It's been a year since politics was put ahead of mercy, ahead of honesty, and ahead of any shred of principle about limited government.

Mrs. Schiavo is gone, but the problems we faced a year ago haven't gone anywhere.

While we're at it, remember to put together your living will and a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. Here's a link with more information for Kansas, but remember that the rules are slightly different in each state. And remember to regularly discuss what you would want in various situations with the people who might be making that choice. A clear written statement matched by regular conversations will guarantee that your wishes are executed should an accident ever befall you.