On Monday, March 28, an article appeared in the New York Post that really got my dander up. It was short piece (less than 150) words by Dr. Eric Braverman of the PATH Medical clinic in Manhattan.
In the item titled “Fading Away Slowly but Painlessly,” Dr. Braverman states, without equivocation, that Terri Schiavo would feel no pain has her body succumbed to court-ordered denial of food and water.
Dr. Braverman’s piece began: “Terri Schiavo’s time is growing short — and there are a number of ways she could die. Fifteen years ago, the part of her brain that controls thought, feeling and pain died. Now, other parts of her body are starting to fail because of the lack of food and water.”
He then went on to briefly describe how she could die and how that process could appear. The good doctor then closed by stating assertively: “She will not feel any pain. Her brain has no ability to process it.”
Reading this, a statement that ran contrary to most of the news I had heard about Terri’s condition, I decided to call Dr. Braverman’s office. He wasn’t in, but his receptionist took my message and gave me his email address.
So I sent him the following:
My name is Chris Field. I am the Editor of Human Events Online. Human Events is the nation’s oldest conservative weekly.
I read your short piece in the New York Post this morning titled “Fading Away Slowly but Painlessly” (http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/41879.htm) and have a few questions for you. I tried contacting you at your PATH Medical office but was told you were not in today. Your receptionist gave me your email address.
Here are my questions, your answers to which I would like to publish:
- 1) You assert that the portion of Terri’s brain that processes pain is dead. If that is true, why has she been on morphine during the starvation and dehydration process?
2) If Terri has not felt pain for the last 15 years, how could this be construed as a “mercy killing” (as some pro-“pull the plug” advocates have termed it)?
3) If Terri cannot feel pain, why did anyone worry about keeping her on a mattress in the hospice or preventing bed sores or changing her clothes and sheets?
4) Had someone stuck her in the eye with a needle or physically abused her in anyway before the removal of the feeding tube, would you have advocated for any type of punishment for such abuse? Or does the inability to sense pain negate any potential criminal activity in such a case?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
You’ll be encouraged to know that Dr. Braverman actually called me back, and we had three separate phone conversations. Perhaps, one day, I’ll let you know what he said — once I’m able to make sense of it all.
Of course, I didn’t change his mind, but I did let him know a few important things about the Schiavo case of which he was previously unaware when he wrote his piece that left no room for doubt.
Scary — having not even close to all the facts yet insisting that an innocent woman die and that she won’t feel it. That’s why so many of us said that we should err on the side of innocent human life.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter