Washington, DC, March 31, 2005— The head of the nation’s largest faith-based association of physicians today lamented Terri Schiavo’s death as a failure of medicine, law and culture.
David Stevens, M.D., Executive Director of the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association, (www.cmdahome.org) said, “Today we grieve, along with Terri’s parents and siblings, for a life unnaturally cut short. Terri’s death reflects a failure of a medical system that failed to insist on a definitive diagnosis consensus, a legal system that failed to deliver due process, and a culture that failed to distinguish between artificially prolonging life and deliberately ending life.
“Removing Terri’s tube was done simply to remove a burdensome patient. Reliable neurologists determined that Terri was not in a persistent vegetative state, which means her starvation and dehydration led to a slow and painful death.
“If anything remotely positive can come of this tragedy, it will be a fresh awareness of the need for patients to protect themselves by designating a proxy who will stand up for their clear desires in a case of incapacitation.”
The Christian Medical Association is making available at no cost on its web site (www.cmawashington.org) a guide to end of life health care that includes an advance directive form for patients and their families.