Location: Santa Ana, California, United States

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics and an admitted diet fanatic. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of two interactive workbooks, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual and Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, she also publishes a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge and various weight loss mini-courses. She can be reached at,, or

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Schiavo Autopsy Report

After the outpouring of emotions and personal soul searching that Teri Schiavo's predicament evoked in us all had finally started to calm down, the results of her autopsy were released by the medical examiner this week.

We shall probably never know the cause of her unfortunate cerebral accident although domestic violence and an eating disorder seem to have been ruled out. The important information was the confirmation of her physiologic condition: her brain was atrophied to half normal size. While platitudes like "humans only use 10% of their brains' potential" abound, it is a documented fact that half a brain just doesn't function like a complete brain. In Ms. Schiavo's case, it did not seem to function above the most primitive level: she was blind, oblivious to her surroundings, unable to eat, and unable to make purposive movements beyond reflexes.

Consider the debates that have raged over her. If you accept the medical evidence that her persistent vegetative state was permanent, then pulling the feeding tube is the logical response. On the other hand, if you identify with her parent's view: that she could appropriately respond to the sound of loved voices and wanted to stay alive, then you must perforce assume that she still possessed some modicum of an unconscious self.

Is it believable that any human being given the choice of a living hell -- can't speak, can't move, can't eat, can't see -- or the peace of simply going to sleep, would choose . . . hell?

To argue that she should have been allowed to live until natural death occurred is moot: she naturally died 15 years ago and only unnatural means maintained her body in a semi-living state.

However, even if she was virtually unresponsive, those who loved her had something to touch beyond a grave and a memory and they desperately wanted to hold on to that for as long as they could.

With all the scientific data in the world, and the interference of courts, religious leaders, and politicians, the moral dilemmas get no easier and, quietly and alone, we all have to make our own decisions about life.


Post a Comment

<< Home