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Dealing with terminal illnesses

by guest columnist Les Nakamoto

Having had two members of my family with long term terminal illnesses, that had no chance of rehabilitation or survivability, and having seen the devastating effect that it had on surviving family members, I may have a different perspective than many who have opinions on the Terri Shiavo case.

In one case, my grandmother was on a feeding tube for 9 years after a stroke. She didn't recognize members of her family, and couldn't hold any conversations of any sort with anyone. She had bed sores covering her body which wouldn't heal because of her condition. The other case involved an uncle, a veteran of World War II, who suffered for many years under the devastating effects of Alzheimers. The expenses were financially devastating to our family, which had made significant sacrifices in order to keep both of them alive, with no quality of life provided in return. They were alive, but on life support, and the family members making the final decisions didn't have the heart to pull the plug. 

I don't fault them for making the decisions that they did, because it was their decision to make. I don't feel that I would have made the same decision, had I been in the same position, given that I, personally, wouldn't have wanted to live that way.

The legal case involving Terri Shiavo, has been going on since 1993, and while there have been accusations going in both directions, there hasn't been any evidence that proves that there was any cruelty or unwillingness to provide care to Terri by her husband, her guardian. In fact, he had turned down significant amounts of money offered by at least three individuals to keep her alive. 

I think that the decision to care for a loved one or let them go without any heroic efforts to keep them on life support, just because the technology is available, is the family's alone. 

Given the more than 27 court actions that have occurred over the years to keep her on life support, or let her go, goes beyond any normal action that would even be available to most families. 

The fact that the Republican Congress, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and President Bush make this a political spectacle in order to gain support from their political supporters, takes a very personal decision out of the hands of the closest loved ones of the victims, and makes it an impersonal, legislative issue for political gain. 

It is shameful that our elected officials use their offices to interfere with personal issues for their own benefit, and take away our rights to make those choices ourselves. It is an extreme example of how our current government continues to take away personal choice and legislate the decisions for us based on a very narrow view of what is "right". 

For those who believe that it is proper or appropriate for Congress to step in and take this action and allow numerous courts and even the Supreme Court to make decisions that take these rights out of the hands of the PEOPLE, I would suggest that it is an extreme act of hypocrisy from the party that claims that Government should stay out of our lives. 

And if this action wasn't simply an act of political "slight of hand" for political gain, I would challenge every politician who has taken a stance to interfere with the family decisions, to do so again, in EVERY CASE THAT EVER COMES UP IN THE FUTURE. If they choose not to, it would be proof positive, that their action here, IS without a doubt, simply political theatre. And if this is NOT political theatre, then why do the Republicans consistently deny the rights of ALL AMERICANS to have Universal Catastrophic Health Care? 

Les Nakamoto lives in Ozaukee County in Wisconsin

"I distrust who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

Susan B. Anthony


"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

George Orwell


I have sworn eternal enmity before the altar of Almighty God, against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man"

Thomas Jefferson


"I have always been on the side of the heretics against those who burned them because the heretics so often turned out to be right.  Dead, but right. "

Edward R. Murrow

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends a tiny ripple of hope. Crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these simple ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Robert Kennedy


"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Theodore Roosevelt

"A Democracy will vote away its rights. "

Benjamin Franklin


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