Friday, April 01, 2005

American vs. European views of Schiavo case

While Americans were divided over the Schiavo case, although pretty much by a 2:1 ratio in favor of the husband's claims, I don't think many Americans saw this as a case of medical treatment per se, but one of the patient's wishes and the proper custodian of an incapacitated patient whose wishes were never independently confirmed in a written living will.

But as reports El WaPo, Europeans are scratching their collective beret-topped, cheese-eating surrender monkey heads, wondering why we don't just let our doctors wrest our fate from our hands:

PARIS, March 31 -- In European countries that have struggled through their own end-of-life debates in recent years, the case of Terri Schiavo has sparked widespread interest and befuddlement at how politics and faith intervened in what most Europeans view as a strictly medical decision.

Nico Mensing van Charante, a Dutch physician who is often called to provide a second opinion in end-of-life cases, called the Schiavo case "a circus" and said the decision to remove her feeding tube would have been clear-cut in the Netherlands. "It's the end of a treatment that doesn't make any sense -- it's not euthanasia or assisted suicide," he said. "If you stop the feeding, it's a medical decision, so it's a natural death -- nothing to declare or notify."
Oh, I see. So basically the decision to pull the plug shouldn't be up to the patient or the patient's legal guardian or designated attorney for medical treatment. It should solely be up to the doctor. As our friend Kofi Annan is so fond of saying: "Hell no!"

This is just another area of life I'm glad we do have a European mindset in.

No matter where you stood on the Schiavo case, at least we agree and shudder in revulsion at the notion that it is a doctor, not the proper legal guardian or family member, who should make end-of-life treatment decisions.