T.R. Johns
Lake Forest, California

Dogged indifference



  • Hardline Catholics Get Their Pope
    by Rema Rahman
  • Removing artificial life support or discontinuing extreme measures certainly does not preclude a glass of water. Forget about the death row murderer analogy, how about a thirsty dog?

    Georgia Gibbons
    Rockport, Massachusetts

    Split decision

    Hentoff informs us that Terri Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state and criticizes other media sources for furthering this erroneous information. Her conscious state seems to have been, rightfully so, an important bone of contention. However in the second paragraph of her article, Lerner describes her as "the Florida woman who has spent the past 15 years in a persistent vegetative state."

    So what's the verdict?

    Leslie Huddart
    Kyoto, Japan

    A view to not kill

    Hentoff's informative article changed my views completely on the Terri Schiavo case. I've been described as a conservative liberal, I am pro-choice, and I think people should be allowed to die if they have expressed a desire not to be kept alive by artificial means. But what struck me most was his last paragraph, where he says that Terri could swallow her own saliva and that the courts ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. An infant cannot feed itself. An infant is capable of eating, but cannot bring food or water to its own lips. In Schiavo's case, apparently her parents were not allowed to hand-feed her. But if they had not hand-fed her as an infant, wouldn't they have been arrested for murder had she died?

    Mina Flores Turner
    Los Angeles, California

    Words to live by

    What happened to this woman only happened because she is unable to speak. If Christopher Reeve had been unable to speak, would there have been so much talk about stem cell research or would the ACLU and others simply have allowed him to die?

    Derek DiCiccio
    Dallas, Texas

    The Bible tells me so

    Re Hentoff's article: I thought I was reading the Voice, not the Post. The general claim is that Theresa Schiavo told her husband that she'd never want to be kept artificially alive. Since we don't have proof, the next step is to follow the legal order of next of kin: spouse, offspring, parents, other relative. This is rooted in old English law. The Bible also dictates next of kin: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Also refer to Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:7-8, and Ephesians 5:31 if you want more proof.

    Larry Perera
    Lower East Side

    Election question

    I heard that Michael Schiavo's lawyer may have given a (re-election) campaign donation to the judge that was deciding Terri's fate. Conflict of interest?

    Helen Procner
    Winnipeg, Manitoba

    The facts of death

    Hentoff is doing a huge disservice to all the families out there with terminally ill members who are, at this moment, making the choice to die, and his characterization of death by stopping fluids and food is not how it goes. I've witnessed it, and in a loving setting there is no bleeding, no vomiting, and no discomfort. So instead of quoting descriptions from one-sided viewpoints and less-than-1,000 opinion polls, why not try the teaching hospitals and the American Medical Association, and get some facts?

    Ann DeMarsh
    Seattle, Washington

    Two weeks' notice

    Too bad you did not push Hentoff's side of the story two weeks ago. Could have had a big impact.

    John Voss
    Roseville, California


    Why has no one noticed that Terri Schiavo's name is an anagram for "Christ Savior," with an extra E. Perhaps it is meant to be "Christé Savior." I predict that she and the pope will die at the same time. One holy man they will do anything to save, one woman named for Christ they are starving to death. I don't understand the world today.

    Kathy Gaudry
    Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Shadow of a doubt

    I do not know for sure if Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but neither does Nat Hentoff, who has chosen to declare that he knows beyond doubt that she is not in such a state. It is sufficient to suggest that Hentoff has ignored the tough questions, and I do not claim to have answers to them.

    Schiavo is not a unique case. There are many similar cases in the U.S., and it may indeed make sense to prolong life as long as possible. As a political commentator, however, Hentoff has a responsibility to advocate maximum support for all such cases and to specify how that support is to be financed. The Schiavo case appears to have come along at precisely the time when there is no more funding available to support her.

    These issues are very complex, but those who declare themselves moralists unaffected by religion cannot avoid them.

    Frederick Thayer
    Professor emeritus, public and international affairs, University of Pittsburgh

    Dread machinery

    What are we expected to do now, have "warehouses" for extremely old people and others like Terri Schiavo who have no hope of ever recovering, with all those withered and drawn bodies hooked up to whatever machinery makes us feel better for years while children die from treatable illnesses all around us?

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