Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bill Frist's questioning of the Schiavo diagnosis 

I'm not following the Schiavo case too carefully, but did see this little article from WP via MSNBC about Sen Frist's comments that the diagnosis might be wrong:

Frist views video, disputes Schiavo diagnosis

Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a "persistent vegetative state."

"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

and the response? Well, there really is no response, just counter-attack. The counter-attack accuses Frist of political grandstanding and not really caring about the patient.

His comments raised eyebrows in medical and political circles alike. It is not every day that a high-profile physician relies on family videotapes to challenge the diagnosis of doctors who examined a severely brain-damaged patient in person. Democrats were quick to note that Frist was getting rave reviews from conservative activists who will play a major role in the 2008 presidential primaries he is weighing.
"I suspect that Senator Frist has his eye more on the Iowa caucus than the Hippocratic Oath," said Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council and former GOP Senate staffer. "This is clearly the politics of the Republican base."
Some medical professionals questioned the appropriateness of Frist challenging court-approved doctors who have treated Schiavo. Laurie Zoloth, director of bioethics for the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University, said she was surprised to hear Frist weigh in, given that he has not examined Schiavo. "It is extremely unusual -- and by a non-neurologist, I might add," Zoloth said in an interview.

Ok, great. Does anybody actually answer what he said? Nope. Not one word.

Could someone please just say something like: "Yes, well, it may appear like she is responding to visual stimuli in the video tape, but that is actually an illusion, much like the way in which George Bush's mouth appears to move on camera when Karl Rove is talking. Really, nothing to get excited about."

It would be so simple, but all we hear are accusations that Frist is playing political games with a woman's life.

It reminds me of this psychology principle that often times when someone is totally bothered by something they see in someone else, it is because it is really something they see about themselves. Those who complain about Sen Frist--for wanting to make sure she is actually in a vegatative state before cutting off her food--have only one frame of reference: their own all-encompassing political viewpoint, and how easily they can keep the Schiavo case in synch with it.

I'd rather get to the truth. I'm willing to believe that is what Bill Frist wants. Or at least willing to act as if it is, and hope someone is willing to answer him.

I'm not even saying I agree or disagree with the feeding tube and right-to-life and all the other things that go with it. Just let Bill Frist ask a question and then answer it. THEN you can charge him with politics.
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