Florida Judge Orders Pope Removed from Life Support*

Clearwater, Fla. In a shocking development in the Terri Schiavo case today, a Florida appeals court ordered Vatican doctors to remove all life support from the ailing Pope John Paul II.

In a decision sure to have international repercussions, Judge George Greer ruled that although Terri Schiavo's lawyers had provided substantial evidence that the Pontiff responded to external stimuli by doing such things as "eating, talking, praying, and blessing the faithful," that such behaviors were simple auto-responses that in no way proved any type of self-awareness. Despite plans to attend Sunday prayers tomorrow, the judge proclaimed the Pope to be in a "constant vegetative state".

"We understand and sympathize with the feelings that Catholics, Christians, and humanitarians of all stripes have for the Holy Father," Judge Greer announced from the bench, "but this is a nation of laws. As such we must not let any moral considerations, whatever their source may be, interfere with justice."

The judges order would require doctors at Rome's Gemelli hospital to withhold all medical care from the Pope, including food & water and strapping the Pope down if he reflexively objects that he is hungry and/or thirsty. However, the Court's order will not take affect until March 18th allowing time for the case to be appealed.

"We will appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court," Terri Schiavo lawyer David Gibbs III said in a press conference immediately following the unexpected ruling.

NARAL, the ACLU, and attorney's for Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, have already begun work on amicus curae briefs in support of the judges decision to euthenize the Pope. "The right to die is an essential aspect of human dignity," said George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney and spokesman, "and the right to kill those who no longer have any value and are a drain on the economy is unseperable from this right."

"The legal principle of convenience," he added, "has triumphed today over the arcane remnants of religious bigotry which threaten to shake the very foundations of our secular society had the judge not ruled in our favor."

Reactions from the Vatican were swift. An emergency meeting was called for all available ranking Church officials and thousands gathered for a candle-light vigil in Saint Peter's Square. A spokesperson for the Papal state immediately denounced the ruling as contrary to the teachings of the Church and said the Vatican would join the appeal to judge Greer's ruling.

Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC strongly condemned the ruling. When asked what the Church would do if John Paul were to lose the appeal, McCarrick said, "As Catholics we believe that preserving the sanctity of life is the first duty of governments and of individual followers of Christ."

"What judge Greer has done today is essentially to sanction the murder of the Holy See," he went on, "and we cannot and will not stand for this! We must protect the life of the innocent at all costs--even if that means a non-violent protest or fast of some kind. Maybe even a prayer vigil--a long one. I really hope that works."

Today's ruling came as a shock to many legal experts who claimed that the Pope had no standing in the Schiavo case and the court no authority to make the ruling. Even so, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe announced his support of the decision as the logical extension of the application of internationl law in the US.

"Besides," said Tribe, "the guy is really old."

The Pope is expected to make a statement about the case tomorrow.


Posted by: Rusty at 03:13 PM


1 How truly sad that you have to put an asterisk in the title.

Posted by: Leopold Stotch at February 26, 2005 04:35 PM

2 "How truly sad that you have to put an asterisk in the title."

Well, some people out there are silly enough to believe some things.

Posted by: actus at February 26, 2005 05:28 PM

3 I know it's satire but it's still not funny; I love the Pope.


Posted by: firstbrokenangel at February 26, 2005 06:10 PM

4 With all the bad news out there, it's nice to see people that are able to hang on to their sense of humor.

Funny, timely, and effective. Nice work!

Posted by: Jonathan at February 26, 2005 06:18 PM

5 Rusty, this was really, really funny. Just today I was speculating whether the bioethicists would begin talking about euthanizing the Pope.

Posted by: Pat Anderson at February 26, 2005 07:18 PM

6 My fellow blogger and I had this SAME discussion yesterday, but we weren't clever enough to realize we could have posted it. GOSH!

When you think about it, as far as most people can tell, Terri and the Pope have about the same amount of awareness. The Pope, I heard, like Terri, can track a balloon floating across the room, recognizes people he knows when the come in, says some words albeit sometimes difficult to understand (including "mommy"), and apparently will laugh at jokes.

The irony is, he's 114 years old and they are moving Heaven and Earth to squeaze every last drop of life out of that poor, tired man.

I suppose I should mark my post here as quasi-satire..

Posted by: Jeff at February 26, 2005 07:38 PM

7 Thanks for comps.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at February 26, 2005 10:32 PM

8 PS-actus and Stotch remember the last time I tried my hand at something like this. Think 300 comments, most of them not very flattering.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at February 26, 2005 10:39 PM

9 Black humor, yes, but how very well it shows you what the whole thing is about. Now it scares me even more.

I've been watching the Schiavo case from a distant country for some time now and can't help wondering how is it that a nation like you has been pacified into fighting such outrageous abuses of judicial power by means of vigils and peaceful demonstrations...

Is there not a group of, say, 100 not so peaceful men with shotguns who would enter that infamous "hospice" and free that longest ever hostage?

For heaven's sake, this is WAR, do you really want to have respect for this caricature of law that alows such barbarian acts as starving a disabled woman to death?

Wake, up, America, please, I'm on the verge of losing faith in you...

Posted by: Jo at February 27, 2005 03:33 AM

10 Doc!

I found the dichotomy very curious, as well, I just don't get it. I posted a bit about it on Friday, as the juxtaposed headlines really made me think. Great piece of writing. You said what I didn't.

Posted by: ZiPpo at February 27, 2005 07:44 AM

11 Here, Here, Cindy!

I was personally blessed by the Pope, and he truly is holiness incarnate.

Posted by: Young Bourbon Professional at February 27, 2005 11:18 AM

12 Again, a bad stab at humor, Rusty! Is the Blogosphere that hard up for "newsworthy" items??

Now, if you were to make fun of Michael Jackson's trial, that's a different story....but the Pope? C'mon!

Posted by: Laura at February 27, 2005 03:22 PM

13 Maybe I didn't get it, but I thought you were making fun of certain "advocacy" groups, Schiavo's husband and the Florida Courts. Which I thought was timely, astute and ironically hilarious. Not about mocking the Pope, but rather it's about how certain people are in a hurry to have that young woman offed by one of the cruelest means possible; they refuse to consider the slippery slope of the whole "quality of life" argument, especially when the decision is made for other people.

Killer: "ut this is a nation of laws. As such we must not let any moral considerations, whatever their source may be, interfere with justice." Exactly the dilemma.

Posted by: tee bee at February 27, 2005 05:14 PM

14 Thank you Young Bourbon Professional, I think you are really lucky to have met and touched the Pope - that would be like a dream come true. I see him, I watch his travels and all I do is sob - he just gets to me so much. I'd give anything to meet him and touched by his holiness.

Secondly, the Pope is not brain dead, he's not brain stem dead either. Terri Shiavo, on the other hand is brain dead. She has brain stem function only but her life, her body is kept alive by machines. The pictures you see on tv today are over 10 years old. They wouldn't and couldn't possibly show you what she looks like today.

Putting the two in the same sentence isn't funny; it's that simple. And I have a good sense of humor - I also have great amount of medical knowledge especially when it comes to the brain function.


Posted by: firstbrokenangel at February 27, 2005 10:49 PM

15 BTW, Catholic or not, the Pope is His Holiness and deserves more respect than this piece of garbage written here. What happened to real news? This man has touched so many people in so many ways and you can't help but ache for this man - if you're human, that is. When he went into the hospital this last time, I cried all day and lit candles in my house and asked God that if this was His time, may he go peacefully, quietly and without suffering. And I would do that whether I was Catholic or not. The Pope is news and I'm sorry you didn't take it as news when I let you know he was rushed to the hospital - I was surprised by your response and your attitude. This man has accomplished more in his life than every president put together in this country. If you don't know that much about him, I suggest you look up his bio.

I used to counsel families, especially those with severe head injuries being called up all hours of the night. I would stay with the patient while the family rested. I also told them the truth - what the machines were for, what they did and became the "guardian angel" of the patient. The nurses loved it because they had so much to do as it was and relied on me to take care of business. I'd sit there and crochet Christmas Stockings. Prepare the family. As to my husband, not only was he brain dead but brain stem dead for the back of his head was crushed inward. They took a towel and folded it in such a way you couldn't tell that his head ended at the end of his ears. Then when I went back to college, I studied up more on law and eutanasia and that was my thesis. Got an A using Massachusetts cases, my hubby, Karen ann Quinlin and a few others not in the Mass law books.

If you're going to talk about these two separate people, it should be in separate terms and this kind of disrespect for the Pope is unforgiveable. Don't do it again.


Posted by: firstbrokenangel at February 27, 2005 11:07 PM

16 ((((((((((((Cindy))))))))))))))

Telling it like it is: from the heart!



Posted by: Laura at February 28, 2005 09:32 AM

17 Hey, that's cool, some humanity is more important than other humanity. And should never EVER be used in satire. Especially the Pope, who is God on earth. But the Schiavo chick, she's brain dead. So turn off the machines already. Oh, we're going to have to let her dehydrate and starve because her body still works, which is strange, since her brain doesn't. Oh well. I think she'd brain dead, so it doesn't matter what her family thinks. Except her husband. He says she wants to be dead, so we'll listen to him. I just wish she'd stop staring at me and watching me when I'm in her room. It's ghoulish.

Posted by: Pi at February 28, 2005 09:56 AM

18 this kind of disrespect for the Pope is unforgiveable. Don't do it again.

Awesome helping of chutzpah and, coupled with the personal diatribe, unsurprisingly bitter.

Posted by: irony award at February 28, 2005 10:05 AM

19 Dear Cindy:

Thank you for your comments and for sharing that very personal information about you. It was indeed wonderful to be in the prec
sence of His Holiness. (And don't think that I don't have a photograph of the occasion!)

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. I'll remember you both in my prayers.

Posted by: Young Bourbon Professional at February 28, 2005 12:12 PM

20 She has brain stem function only but her life, her body is kept alive by machines.

Are you sure about that, Cindy? My understanding is that the only artificial support she has is a feeding tube. If that isn't true, then why does it require starvation to kill her?

Posted by: Capt. Ichibum at February 28, 2005 02:31 PM

21 Yes, she is breathing on her own, it's the feeding tube that's causing all the debate. Had she been kept ALIVE by articial means, meaning, she couldn't breathe without it, I don't think there would be all this hoopla surrounding the case. It is the fact that she would slowly starve to death....certainly not a humane way to go.

Who are we to decide on what quality of life is? So maybe she's not functioning, but she IS breathing on her own. I don't understand why the husband can't just hand her over to her parents? Is there insurance monies to be paid upon her death? Surely, that would have to go for all those years of care, if that's the issue.

The family wants her so badly...he's already got another family started with another woman...why not just let her go to her family???

Posted by: Laura at February 28, 2005 05:30 PM

22 So much for "For better or for worse."

Posted by: Young Bourbon Professional at February 28, 2005 06:14 PM

23 Allright, let me explain brain stem death and brain dead. Terri is brain dead which is clinically and legally dead. Her brain stem still funtions - it's about the size of a grape at the base of her skull just above the beginning of the spine. It is responsible for breathing and body temperature. It's not normal breathing, maybe 10 breaths per minute so most likely she's on oxygen. The feeding tube is implanted into her stomach and sometimes through the next to send nutrition to the body in liquid form. She has a catheter for urine output. She has no idea of anything and hasn't all this time. They don't actually starve people to death by the way. They'll remove the feeding tube and keep her on medication by IV till her heart gives out; it is very sympathetic. It is time for the parents to just say goodbye to the body and let her go; it is not doing them or her any good. After all these years, it is time to move on. I don't know why people cling so strongly but the soul, the spirit, what makes her what she was is long gone. She will be treated with respect and dignity. She'll never feel a thing; it is way past time to say goodbye. Florida is one state I would not want to be in just for this reason. My father recently died and he had a living will and because of his wife they put him on life support although he was dead and definitely brain dead. A few nights later, around 2 am, I called the hospital and talked to the nurse about my father and she told me that my sisters and brothers should get together to talk to my mother (she's not my mother - my mother died of cancer many years ago). So the next morning, I called the house and asked why my father was on life support when that is something he never wanted. Hi wife was so stupid she had no idea he was on life support. My sister, who flew in from Australia met her at the hospital the night before and asked what the machines were for and why was that tube down my father's throat. Yucko answered "It's so he won't choke." HUH? Anyway, when they reached the hospital that day, the doctors and nurses were waiting for them, after my call, and told her the truth and they shut it down.

You ask me how I know? I know because I've been there many times plus volunteered for years in ICU for families and patients in similar circumstances as I stated above. THAT IS HOW I KNOW. And when you know and walk into a room, you know, you just know. When my aunt Carole was on life support, my sister Paula came in with me. I told her not to but she came in anyway. As we walked into the room, she hit me in the back almost knocking me down. I turned around and looked at her "what?" "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked. I told her "I told you not to come in." It's a shock and something inside you tells you the truth. So when I say I KNOW, it's because I do know.

And to bourbon guy and Laura, thank you.


Posted by: firstbrokenangel at February 28, 2005 10:42 PM

24 I can only say that if I were in the young ladies shape I would wish to go as quickly and painlessly as possible. Is this stupidity merely the result of fallout between the relatives? If so they should be jailed.
Why waste resources. Save the saveable and let others go painlessly.

Posted by: greyrooster at March 01, 2005 06:07 AM

25 Medical professionals might argue theoretically, but none would offer a diagnosis based on anecdotal information, which is all anyone on this thread has - even if a doctor claiming to be responsible for this woman made a statement here. There is a reason for physical assessment; there is a reason we continue this debate. Ushering someone to death is a course that cannot be reversed. Proclaiming that you don't want to live in a reduced state presumes you know what it means to live like that - you don't until you have. Given this line of thinking, there are loved and wanted children being born every day that live happy lives, never knowing that many people loathe the idea of the lives they lead and think they should be dead. Vehemence about the permanent disposal of others is frightening.

Posted by: tee bee at March 01, 2005 10:22 AM

26 Tee Bee - you're still showing your ignorance of the meanings of brain dead, brain stem death, vegetative state, etc. Get off the train.


Posted by: firstbrokenangel at March 01, 2005 01:27 PM

27 Sorry Cindy, but you're wrong about Terri Schiavo. Those simply are not the facts. If you feel so strongly about it, may I suggest you read the sworn affadavits made by her caretakers (doctors, nurses) who say quite the opposite.

Further, a catheter? That's totally irrelevant. Some paraplegics use them, as well as colostomy bags--does that have anything to do with whether they should be allowed to live?

Stephen Hawking cannot feed himself or do any of the physical things those pushing for Terri's death say make such a life worthless. Severely mentally retarded/brain damaged people live their lives. Why should Terri be any different? Should we exterminate everyone who WE think has an intolerable life? Ever hear of eugenics?

She left NO advance directive, and the judge decided to side with Michael Schiavo rather than her parents, even though he has a financial interest. His claim to her life came THREE YEARS after her injury, AFTER a malpractice suit was awarded. When there's a dispute as to what a patient "would want," we should ALWAYS err on the side of life. Death is irreversible. Terri's condition COULD improve (see also: Susan Scantlin, plus those who have attested to her ability to rehabilitate some).

There's much more to this case than you imply you know about. No one should be crusading for either side without seeing BOTH sides of the story. Frankly, I'm surprised that you're so passionate about the Pope but hold the pro-death position you have. I'm terribly sorry about your father's death--the specifics of his situation are different from Terri Schiavo's, though.

Finally, there are many, many medical professionals who say the starvation process is NOT easy as you describe. They don't even sedate the patient, even when there is brain activity. They DO suffer when feeding/hydration is stopped.

This isn't about her parents "letting go," it's about their desire to take care of her and see to it that she gets the rehab services she NEEDS and has needed and has been denied by her "husband" in his quest for her death.

Posted by: Beth at March 01, 2005 01:39 PM

28 Vehemence about the permanent disposal of others is frightening.

And just imagine how much more frightening it is if, like me, you are one of those on the proposed disposal list...

I don't pretend to have any easy answers for tragic cases like Terri's. I do know from personal experience, however, that the able-bodied presume that the lives of the physically impaired are much worse than they in fact are. For example, I have had two nurses of all people tell me to my face that they would kill themselves if they had to live in my condition -- and I'm hardly the worst-off specimen around! With that kind of attitude out there, the far greater danger is that patients will be killed off too lightly and quickly, not that they will be forced to stay alive.

Do we really want to create a society in which the most vulnerable have to constantly justify their continued existence?

Posted by: Capt. Ichibum at March 01, 2005 01:48 PM

29 Amen to that.

Posted by: Young Bourbon Professional at March 01, 2005 03:10 PM

30 I agree to an extent with both Beth and Capt. Let me tell you all, that as a parent to a disabled son, I, too, could have been faced with this horrible dilemma at his birth. As my third son, there was no indication that Sean would be born any other way but healthy, as his brothers before him.

When he was born, he immediately went into respiratory and cardiac arrest. He was born with a malformed trachea, Down Syndrome, GE reflux, necessitating a feeding tube and respirator to remain alive. He had surgery at 3 days old, to correct the reflux. Many people would have given up hope, some of my own family members wouldn't have put up with what I have.

I am proud to say that Sean is now 11 yrs. old, in the 5th grade, albeit spec. ed., no longer has the feeding tube, respirator, any cardiac troubles. He eats, drinks and lives as normally as is expected for a child with Down Syndrome.

From all reports, those videos of Terri are from "a long time ago" and eyewitnesses say she is much worse off than initially thought. In any case, no one has the right to play God, is all I'm saying.

And from what I know, she is NOT on any respirator, she is breathing on her own. To removed the feeding tube would certainly result in a form of starvation.

Lots of people say they would rather die than be in that state...how do we know that? Look at Christopher Reeve!! He couldn't do a damned thing for himself, couldn't even BREATHE on his own...there was no question on keeping him alive...why? Because he can think and talk?

As the other poster stated, what about the disabled, such as my child, who is unable to defend himself? Just because they can't state what they need, is no reason to end their life, because it inconveniences others! For God's sakes, the parents WANT to care for her!

There's more to this than meets the eye with this husband of hers. So much for the statement "for better or worse" "in sickness and in health" is right!

Posted by: Laura at March 01, 2005 03:29 PM

31 I'm staying out of this one. If it was me. I say let me go. If it was my wife or child I might have difference feelings.

Posted by: greyrooster at March 01, 2005 10:44 PM

32 Protect the weak. That's the American Way.

Posted by: Young Bourbon Professional at March 02, 2005 06:01 PM

33 She's braindead. No she's not going to get better. It's been 15 years, HELLO SHE'S NOT GETTING BETTER.

Let her go. Why is the GOP trying to meddle with this?????????? If the gov't is so worried about 1 human life why are they sending our sons and daughters to die in Iraq? Why are we in Iraq anyway killing iraqis human beings who never did anything to us. It was a terrorist group Al Qaeda. Nothing to do with Iraq.

Posted by: Mark at March 20, 2005 03:27 PM

34 There is one big difference of course - the Vatican announced it was putting the pope's life in the hands of his physicians while the nutjobs in Florida want to take Terri's life out of the doctors hands.

Posted by: Jake at March 25, 2005 09:58 AM

35 I thought this "article" was sick, and a cheap shot. I didn't always agree with the Pope, but he was a good man who deserves more respect than this poorly written, badly aimed trash.

Regarding poor, unfortunate Terri Schiavo, there were a lot of questions around her circumstances and her husband's motives, but I agree, the woman was brain dead, in diapers for 15 years, with tubes down her throat, crying only out of reflex, not human emotion. Who would want to be kept "alive" like that? Some frightened dogmatists who believe it all ends here, perhaps. But this "article" you've posted is just disgusting. It's not satire, dude, it's intellectual poverty.

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