The poem “To the Mercy Killers” by Dudley Randall refers to the ongoing debate of the right to live. “If ever mercy move you murder me, I pray you, kindly killers, let me live” (Randall 623). Here he is most likely referring to doctors as “kindly killers” who feel that letting him die would be a mercy to him. Randall clearly believes that life is a treasured gift, and should not be purposely extinguished for any reason. However, terminally ill patients should have the right to decide whether they want to die or not.
In 2003, much of the American public first became aware of a brain damaged woman named Terri Schiavo. On February 25, 1990, Terri Schiavo collapsed in her home from unknown causes. Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, told police, “She had been tired lately and not feeling well” (University of Miami). This incident was officially deemed cardiac arrest, and it was stated that the brain damage was due to a lack of oxygen. For years, Terri had an ongoing battle with bulimia, which most likely resulted in the incident. Police reports showed no signs of foul play.
In 1992, Michael Schiavo was awarded one million dollars in a malpractice case against one of Terri’s physicians. Michael later claimed that Terri’s parents, the Schindlers, demanded that he share the money with him. This caused a falling out between the two parties. The Schindlers filed a motion to remove Terri from Michael’s custody, which was denied. Then, in 1998, Michael filed a motion to have Terri’s feeding tube removed, saying she would not want to live like this. The Schindlers opposed this, saying Terri would wish to remain alive. Predictably, the issue goes to a trial.
The trial began in January of 2000. Eventually, Judge George Greer ruled in favor of Michael, saying Terri’s wish would be to die. For years, the Schindlers would appeal to higher courts, until even the federal government and President George W. Bush got involved. Michael Schiavo was appalled by these attempts:
"Right now I am very outraged. This is a sad day for Terri and this is a sad day for everybody in America because the government is going to trample on all of your personal and private matters. This is an outrage, they have no business in this matter. Terri made her wishes, it has been adjudicated in a state court over the last seven years. Eighteen judges have heard this. Appeals have been heard. The Supreme Court justices have heard this, and now the House of Representatives and the Senate are saying that they are wrong. They are thumbing their nose up at the constitution” (Democracy Now).
However, the hastily passed laws both the state of Florida and the federal government are eventually deemed unconstitutional by the courts. The feeding tube is removed on March 18, 2005 despite frantic appeals of the Schindlers and organizations that support them. On March 31, 2005, at 9:05am, Terri Schiavo died a “calm, peaceful, and gentle death” according to Michael’s attorney (China Daily). The...