There's a good article
in the Gainesville Sun
today that contains the analysis of medical ethicists and legal experts in Florida. The commentary seems focused primarily upon Terry Schiavo's desire to avoid unwanted invasive treatments, but Alta Charo, quoted in an article
in the Post-Crescent
(Appleton-Neenah-Menasha, Wisc.) makes the more generally useful point that Schiavo is about the ability of a surrogate decision maker to make his or her decision stick in the event of a family dispute. "Once an individual has lost the ability to speak for herself, somebody must speak for her,” and once that happens, legal questions abound: who can speak for her? does the answer to that question change when the family disagrees about the outcome? what are the evidentiary standards and substantive rules that constrain the surrogate's choice? Of course, all those issues have been litigated for the better (or worse) part of 7 years: Terry's husband has been found to be the lawful surrogate and the choice he's made has been found to be consistent with the law of Florida for such choices, which makes the intervention by the legislature and the governor appallingly bad and shockingly opportunistic.