George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo in his case to have his wife starved to death, has been quoted by CNN in referring to US Congressional actions related to the case as “thuggery”. Mr. Felos also is quoted as saying,
|"Mrs. Schiavo had a right to choose her own course."|
Of course, what’s at issue here is Mr. Schiavo choosing her course.
Exactly what course did Mrs. Schiavo choose? Well, no one contests the idea that she is a practicing Roman Catholic. In fact, the CNN article mentions her receiving the Catholic Sacrament of Communion just before the feeding tube was disconnected. What choice did she make in her Profession of Faith? The Roman Catholic Catechism makes it quite clear:
2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.
2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.
2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.
Yes, Mrs. Schiavo has chosen a course which should be respected. She has chosen to receive "the ordinary care owed to a sick person". Apparently Michael Schiavo and George Felos feel either that
- sick people should not expect to receive food and water; or else
- Mrs. Schiavo really doesn’t – and never had – the right to choose her own course.
Mrs. Schiavo, in choosing her own course, also chose a Profession of Faith including the fact that her "legitimate interests" – like being fed – would be respected. Michael Schiavo and George Felos are taking a course contrary to Mrs. Schiavo’s acknowledged beliefs and choices. Maybe it’s time for the Florida State Bar Association to look into disbarment of Mr. Felos – at least unless Mr. Felos stops pretending he’s the attorney for Mrs. Schiavo’s interests, and admits he’s acting solely on Michael Schiavo’s interests.