Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

When An 80 Percent Majority Isn't Enough

A new Zogby poll shows that if the wishes of the American people are enacted the law regarding medical treatment for the terminally ill and permanently disabled will be changed. Yesterday I noted that some experts in the field are concerned that the American people will change the law. I also noted the problematic direction the law has taken by equating life support with feeding tubes and terminal illness with an irreversible disability. Zogby's poll shows that the American people share that concern. A whopping 80 percent majority believes that non-terminal patients should not be denied food and water. A plurality, 44 percent, believes that an incapacitated patient should be presumed to want to live in the absence of a written directive to the contrary and 57 percent believe that hearsay shouldn't be admitted to prove the patient's wishes. How an incapacitated patient's wishes, who hasn't provided a written directive, can be proven without hearsay is difficult to determine. That 57 percent majority would effectively prevent a patient's wishes to be proven.

Other answers show that the American people were disturbed at the result in the Schiavo case as 56 percent agreed that Michael Schiavo should have turned over his guardianship to Terri's parents. A plurality (45 to 39 percent) also believe that there should be exceptions to permitting spouses from acting as guardians.

In good news for Republican legislators who intervened in the case, and who are pressing forward with legislation in the area, only 14 percent thought that elected officials should not intervene to order a feeding tube to remain in place; 44 percent thought officials should intervene.

It's hard to draw sweeping conclusions from these results. However, it does appear that the American people are unhappy with the result in the Schiavo case and have concerns about the law in this area. If the American people had had a say in the matter, Terri Schiavo would be alive today. This bodes well for those of us who believe the law should be modified to better protect patients like Terri.




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