Schiavo round-up

Kevin Keith, Tom Mayo, and Dahlia Lithwick explain it all for you.

For an issue that I regard as entirely spurious, the Schiavo case certainly has generated a remarkable amount of clear and forceful writing. Some examples:

1. Kevin Keith at Lean Left has two excellent expositions of the facts and issues in the Schiavo case and the broader questions surrounding termination of care as reflected in the Texas Futile Care law. He argues that medical futility laws such as the one Gov. Bush signed are reasonable, and that the principle behind such laws is fundamentally inconsistent with the law Pres. Bush signed to interfere in the Schiavo case.

Like Tom Mayo of HealthLawProf, Keith is more willing than think I would be to allow the termination of care against the wishes of the patient or the patient’s representative, but both of them have clearly spent two or three orders of magnitude more time than I have thinking about this, so I’m tempted to defer to them. Still, though I acknowledge both the resource issue and the likelihood of emotionally-driven mistakes in decisions by patients and (especially) their families, the notion of someone having the plug pulled against his currently expressed wishes doesn’t sit well. Autonomy is an important principle, and it’s worth some suffering and resource sacrifice to avoid violating it.

2. Prof. Tom Mayo teaches law, not anatomy, but he performs an expert dissection of Sen. Dr. William Frist.

3. And Dahlia Lithwick simply goes off — there’s no other term to describe it — on the save-Terri crew. Remind me never to get on Lithwick’s bad side; her prose, like a Samurai sword, is a thing of beauty as long as it’s not pointed at you.

And Abstract Appeal a Florida-based law blog, has what seems to be an impartial resume of the documents in the Schiavo case. I can’t vouch for it personally other than to say the tone seems reasonable, but I point it out to those hungry for information.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com