Case of Terri Schiavo: Ethics at the End of Life

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After the Nancy Cruzan case was decided by the Supreme Court in 1990, and ultimately resolved by the Courts of the State of Missouri, the decision to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging nutrition and hydration appeared to many to be as noncontroversial as decisions to refuse respirators or dialysis. Even the Catholic Church held that, although there should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration, the patient or the patient’s surrogate could overrule this presumption, if either believed the treatment was disproportionate or burdensome.
The Schiavo case changed all that. Although the decision to remove Terri Schiavo’s nutrition and hydration was made by her husband — her legal surrogate — based on his wife’s belief that such treatment was disproportionate, Schiavo’s immediate family protested so much that the case took years to resolve. It eventually involved all branches of government at both the state and federal levels.
The ethical dilemmas that such cases pose continue to stir great controversy. This in-depth examination of these dilemmas provides information and documentation from many perspectives. The editors have included a foreword by Dr. Jay Wolfson, Terri Schiavo’s court-appointed guardian ad litem, as well as Dr. Wolfson’s report to Gov. Jeb Bush on the case and Gov. Bush’s reply; public statements by President George Bush and Senators David Weldon, Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and Barney Frank; statements by the pope and other representatives of the Catholic Church on this issue; plus much medical and legal background material on both precedents to the Schiavo case and its aftermath, including the results of the autopsy report.
For anyone wishing an in-depth understanding of these complex ethical issues, issues many of us will have to confront in our own families, this volume is indispensable.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Unlike many popular biographies that simply try to re-create events, this book is an objective scholarly anthology of documents, reports, and opinion pieces highlighting the complexities of an emotional case."
- Library Journal
"The Schiavo case constituted the perfect storm of medical, legal, moral, and constitutional disputes. In this anthology the editors have gathered a veritable treasure house of primary sources - from medical records and court documents to papal statements - to assist the reader in understanding the controversies and assess the issues.
"The Case of Terri Schiavo will prove to be an invaluable resource for anyone teaching courses in law, medicine, and bioethics. Nowhere else will they find such a complete source of primary documents on the full range of issues that marked the Schiavo controversy.
"This anthology is truly an outstanding collection of sources that would otherwise be unavailable except to the most resourceful scholar."
John J. Paris, SJ
Walsh Professor of Bioethics, Boston College
Library Journal
In 1990, Terri Schiavo suffered cardiac arrest leading to a persistent vegetative state. Over the next 15 years, her case received international attention as her husband and parents argued over how to fulfill Terri's end-of-life wishes. Unlike many popular biographies that simply try to re-create events, this book is an objective scholarly anthology of documents, reports, and opinion pieces highlighting the complexities of an emotional case. Although it would be impossible to include everything relating to Schiavo, the editors-Caplan is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and James L. McCartney is an associate and Dominic A. Sisti a researcher at that institution-provide a nice selection of works from political, legal, and religious experts. Included in this vast resource are the text of "Terri's Law," various congressional statements, an article explaining the concerns of the disability rights community, the pope's statement on life-sustaining treatments, and Schiavo's autopsy report. An extensive time line of events concludes the volume. In addition to the obvious bioethical discussions, political scientists will find extensive food for thought on the separation of powers at both the state and the federal levels. Highly recommended for academic, health, and larger public libraries.-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591023982
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 1,518,792
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Philadelphia, PA), is the director of the Center for Bioethics and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the author or editor of numerous books including The Ethics of Organ Transplants and Who Owns Life?
James J. McCartney, PhD (Villanova, PA), is an associate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics and an associate professor of philosophy at Villanova University. He is the coeditor with Arthur L. Caplan and Dominic Sisti of Health, Disease, & Illness: Concepts in Medicine.
Dominic A. Sisti, MBe (Philadelphia, PA), is a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics. He is the coeditor with Arthur L. Caplan and James J. McCartney of Health, Disease, & Illness: Concepts in Medicine.
Click here to view the table of contents and sample chapters.

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Table of Contents

The preservation of life 23
The percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube : medical and ethical issues in placement 28
Permanent loss of consciousness : expert opinion and community standards 41
United States Supreme Court : Cruzan, by her parents and co-guardians : Cruzan et ux. v. director, Missouri Department of Health, et al. 43
The Wendland case - withdrawing life support from incompetent patients who are not terminally ill 55
Diagnosing the permanent vegetative state 67
Florida law (state statute) FL 765 : healthcare advance directives 75
Court of Appeals of Florida, second district : Thomas E. Corbett v. the Honorable Joseph P. D'Alessandro 80
In re : the guardianship of Theresa Schiavo, an incapacitated person 86
Florida bishops urge safer course for Terri Schiavo 94
Continued concerns for Terri Schiavo 96
A report to governor Jeb Bush and the 6th Judicial Circuit in the matter of Theresa Marie Schiavo 98
Guardian Ad Litem's report 101
The law passed by the Florida legislature (in relation to the Schiavo case) bill no. HB 35-E 102
Supreme Court of Florida : Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, et al., appellants, vs. Michael Schiavo, guardian of Theresa Schiavo, appellee 103
Congressional statements and actions related to the Schiavo Case 128
For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo, S. 686 149
President George W. Bush's statement on S. 686, allowing federal courts to hear claim of Terri Schiavo 152
United States District Court : Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo incapacitated ex rel., Robert Schindler and Mary Schindler, her parents and next friends vs. Michael Schiavo, Judge George W. Greer and The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, Inc. 153
United States Court of Appeals for the eleventh circuit : Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo, incapacitated ex rel, Robert Schindler and Mary Schindler, her parents and next friends, plaintiff-appellant, versus Michael Schiavo, as guardian of the person of Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo, incapacitated, Judge George W. Greer, The Hospice of The Florida Suncoast, Inc., defendants-appellees 157
The time has come to let Terri Schiavo die 159
Affidavit 163
United States Supreme Court : order in pending case 04a825 Schiavo, ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo, Michael, et al. 172
Attorney shares experience, pain, in Michael Schiavo's defense 173
Feeding and hydrating the permanently unconscious and other vulnerable persons
An interim pastoral statement on artificial nutrition and hydration 189
Nutrition and hydration : moral considerations 195
Care of PVS patients : Catholic opinion in the United States 213
Reverence for human life 220
To the participants in the International Congress on "Life-sustaining treatments and vegetative state : scientific advances and ethical dilemmas" 231
Implications of the papal allocution on feeding tubes 236
The Pope on PVS : does JPII's statement make the grade? 242
On the death of Terri Schiavo 247
Our shining knights to the rescue 257
The legacy of the Schiavo case 260
"Culture of Life" politics at the bedside - the case of Terri Schiavo 264
After Terri Schiavo : why the disability rights movement spoke out, why some of us worried, and where do we go from here? 274
Terri Schiavo - a tragedy compounded 285
Report of autopsy 290
Onward, moderate Christian soldiers 314
At Schiavo's hospice, a return to routine 317
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