Thursday, June 16, 2005

Erring on the Side of Caution

Thanks for the Memory to Darth Apathy.

The results of Terry Schiavo's autopsy have been released.

Let me join Bill Frist in saying, I was wrong. Everything I've read about the autopsy indicates that Terri's brain was as gone as was claimed, and that her parents' claim that she wasn't that bad off were wrong.

It had to be heartbreaking for everyone personally involved, but I'm glad, one way or another, that Terri's suffering is over. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have been so quick to jump in on the side I did.

But I didn't know then what I know now. Had I to do it all over again, with the exact same information I already had, I'd still take the course I did. I'd been presented by several sources with what I felt was evidence sufficiently compelling to call into question the claims of Michael Schiavo and his supporters. In hindsight, that evidence was not accurate.

But hindsight, while 20/20, is also too late. And at the time, I had to go with what I knew. In a case where a life is on the line, it's a hard choice to make. I can't imagine what it was like for those whose choice in the matter actually effected its outcome. It's tempting to just "err on the side of caution", to assume that any possibility that Terri was not as bad off as she has turned out to be means we should give her a chance to prove us wrong. That's the error committed by all of us who spoke out against removal of the feeding tube. It turns out it was a tragic error.

But had we been right, the error by those on the other side would have been just as tragic, or more so. How much more awful would it have been if the autopsy hadf proven Terri's parents' case?

In the end, I don't think anyone "won" here. Terri's dead, lives are devastated and hearts broken, and a great deal of ill will has been generated by both sides. For me, my first step in helping to make things right is to admit I was wrong. The next is to express my sincere empathy for those people, the judges, the medical personnel, and the familiy members, who had no choice but to take a side, and who have, more than the rest of us, to live with the results.