Moon has referenced what seems to me a very useful blog on the Schiavo case, which even includes a CT image of her brain. I had not seen these before. There is a lot of talk about her need for an MRI. Sorry, guys, I view CT's of heads every day, of normal folks and folks with advanced dementias from strokes or Alzheimers,, and this is the most pitiably degenerated brain I have ever seen in my 25 years of practice, and that by a very long shot. I can't begin to guess what anyone thinks an MRI will add. There is nothing there. This is not going to be one of those cases where Uncle wakes up and walks out. Ms. Schiavo has already awakened. To be awake requires only a brain stem, not a brain. In medical school we had a horrible cat whose cerebral cortex had been surgically removed. The cat still ate, stood up, walked, was "slinky" like a cat...all that, with only a brain stem and spinal cord. It did not have to be "kept alive" by "extraordinary means". I guess it was still "a cat". It was a miserable, pitiable thing nontheless.
Mr. Hilzoy makes the point (in the blog referrenced) that this is not about the state "killing" someone, and never was. It is about withdrawal of treatment and about consent issues regarding an incompetent patient. Michael Schiavo, like him or not, has been enabled by the courts to make decisions on Terry's behalf. Again, this is done all time, every day, and decisions to not resuscitate or to withdraw treatment are made every day in this way, and must be. If I tell my wife (as I have) that I don't want to be kept alive with a feeding tube, and if I subsequently lose my ability to elaborate on that verbal directive, you better be sure that I don't want anyone else out there preventing her from pulling my tube, especially not to make me a poster boy for the pro-life political agenda. (Which, by the way, has already lost this one, no matter how it goes for Ms. Schiavo. They have turned the eyes of the Leviathan toward this issue, and now there will be no end to legistative and judicial mucking about here.)