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Running head: BIOETHICS AND THE CASE OF TERRI SCHIAVO 1 Bioethics and the Case of Terri Schiavo IHP-420 Zemirah H. Delabruere Southern New Hampshire University
BIOETHICS AND THE CASE OF TERRI SCHIAVO 2 Introduction Terri Schiavo was 26 years old when she collapsed on February 25, 1990 losing consciousness and suffering oxygen deprivation to her brain for a period of time long enough to put her into a “persistent vegetative state.” Her case raised many bioethical questions, some of which are still unanswered (Haberman, 2014, para.3). In the persistent vegetative state (PVS), Schiavo was able to breath without assistance but was kept alive by a feeding tube and many doctors concluded she was unable to think or experience emotions due to the brain damage she had suffered. In 1998, after several years of exploring possible treatment options and ways to improve Schiavo’s quality of life to no avail, her husband Michael Schiavo petitioned to have his wife’s feeding tube removed claiming “she had told him and others she did not want to live in this condition” (The New York Times, 2014, 2:09). Schiavo’s parents did not agree with Michael and fought to keep their daughter alive, yet the decision was left up to the state courts because Schiavo did not have an advance directive expressing her decision regarding her end-of-life wishes (Haberman, 2014). The bioethical issues in this case focus on the obvious fact that Schiavo was suffering from an unacceptably minimal quality of life due to the state she was in but because there was not absolute certainty of her cognitive status and whether she would sense discomfort from dehydration and starvation when the feeding tube was removed, the ethical debate became more complex (Koch, 2005).

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