My response to an inane letter to the editor concerning T. Schiavo

Below you'll find the original letter to the editor by one Ms. Orient, MD, printed in the Arizona Daily Star, and an e-mail that I sent to Ms. Orient (not newspaper) through the e-mail address of an organization she either works for or is closely associated with.


Schiavo wants to live The Star's description of Terri Schiavo's "death process after feeding-tube removal" left out an important feature of death from thirst: the agony. That's the reason you're not allowed to inflict it on a dog. And also the reason why it was used at Auschwitz for behavior that the Nazis wanted most to deter.



Sometimes patients are drugged during the process. But to drug Schiavo would be to admit she might not be in a "persistent vegetative state" - just as about 30 medical experts said in declarations Judge George Greer chose to ignore. If she is aware of her environment, as witnesses attest, it would be unlawful to deprive her of food and water.


Who knows what Terri did or did not say 15 years ago. There is evidence that she now wants very much to live. But her wishes don't count. The decision has been made by her estranged, adulterous husband, who may have abused her in the past, and a court that has decreed the final solution and does not want to be challenged.

Jane M. Orient, M.D.  Tucson


This message is directed to Ms. Jane M. Orient, MD:

I find it somewhat ironic that you should be so closely associated with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons because your letter to the editor, printed in today's (3-22-05) _Daily Star_, is quite reckless in its rhetoric. Your assertion that Michael Schiavo, an "adulterous" man, "may have abused" his wife Terri, presumably before she became brain dead, is what I call reckless. Turn the statement around on yourself, Ms. Orient. As a physician, you "may have" caused the death of one of your patients. Would you like me to print such assertions in a public forum? I no doubt know you just as well as you know Mr. Schiavo--i.e. not at all. Likewise, I myself "may have abused" my cat or my dog, or even my wife (she is NOT brain-dead), but I would not say such a thing, because this would be wildly reckless, and would serve only to cause others to question my motives, my ethics, even my sane relationship to living beings.

Yet this is exactly the step you take with the media news story of the day. Was it worth it to get such an unthought-out statement printed in a newspaper of record? Did you consider the implications? Surely, if I am brain-dead, I would be ill-served to have you as my physician. Instead I'll allow my wife to serve my living will, as per the rule of law, even though the likes of you could print that I "may have abused" her before I was brain-dead, or even that she did the same to me in the past.

I consider it ironic that you attached your degree to the signature of your letter. I hope that you find unexpected results. I for one will steer clear of your office, cast a wayward eye at the actions of the AAPS (after all, it "may not" be a true non-profit organization), and politely ask my future physicians whether or not they take seriously the Hippocratic Oath, for your letter is evidence that some in your community do not. You recklessly commented on a case of which you do not know the facts, and the patient of which I must doubt you have never observed.

But thank you for your letter to the editor. It has given me the knowledge to avoid your care, as well as an ultimately healthy distrust of MDs. For I can never know what doctor "may have abused" his or her patients. Guess I better check up on these things.

Adam M. Schenck


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