An Autopsy Won't End It
One hearsay comment--"no tubes for me" --came while Terri Schiavo was watching television. "Imagine it," Didion wrote. "You are in your early 20s. You are watching a movie, say on Lifetime, in which someone has a feeding tube. You pick up the empty chip bowl. 'No tubes for me,' you say as you get up to fill it. What are the chances you have given this even a passing thought?" According to studies cited last year in the Hastings Center Report, Didion reminds us, almost a third of written directives, after periods as short as two years, no longer reflect the wishes of those who made them. And here nothing was written down at all.
The autopsy confirms the extraordinary damage to Schiavo and discredits those who tried to depict the husband as a wife-beater. But the autopsy has nothing to say about the core moral issue: Do people with profound disabilities no longer have a right to live? That issue is still on the table.