Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Culture-of-Life Loons Make Yamhill Boy a Schiavo Rebuttal

This really disturbs me. Today's front page of the Oregonian, among other outlets, has begun carrying the great story about a young Yamhill County boy who mysteriously slipped into a coma for 22 months, but just as mysteriously came out of it recently. As the father of a boy his age when he fell ill, naturally there's an extra tug at the heart strings for me, but it's a feel-good bit for most anyone:
Whether or not they could visit, people prayed for Devon.

He also received several blessings, a faith-healing service used by members of the LDS Church. The most recent was performed in August by a special friend, Brian King, who had been the Riverses' neighbor and had taught young Devon to drive his tractor.

After King did the blessing, he told the family he felt something different this time. "Devon will heal, but it will take a long time," he told the Rivers family.

Shortly after that, Devon started to recover.

Rivers visited her son at least twice a week. She always carried on a one-sided conversation on the assumption that coma victims retain their hearing.

One Friday in late August, she told Devon the family was heading for Utah for Kylee's wedding. As she spoke, she realized that her son seemed to actually be looking at her, a huge change from the vacant stare he had worn for nearly two years. And he turned his head.

His breathing seemed different, too, as if he weren't relying so much on the tracheal tube. A few days later, the care center contacted her in Utah to let her know they were removing the tube. Devon was indeed breathing on his own, a very positive sign.
Great story, right? Unfortunately for the rest of us, his diagnosis during the coma set off alarm bells at Culture of Life Central: persistent vegetative state, or PVS. Hmmmm....have there been any other recent cases of PVS in the news recently?

The "Multimedia Pro-Life News" seems to recall another PVS incident:
Devon is breathing on his own, and after extensive physical therapy, the family expects him to come home soon.

How reliable is a diagnosis of PSV?

Terri Schiavo was described as being in a persistive vegitative [sic] state. Even though she was animated, laughed and made efforts to speak. Her feeding tube was removed and she was starved and dehydrated to death. Around the country feeding tubes are frequently being removed because doctors don’t believe that the people in those conditions will ever wake up or regain the ability to do things on their own.

How many doctors have been wrong with the PSV diagnosis?
Where does one start with all the nonsense in this article (beyond the fact that they can't even spell "vegetative")? Let's start with their most egregious error, that PVS is an underlying illness, rather than a manifest symptom of what else is wrong. This marginalized community wants you to believe that because Devon came back, it was wrong to let Terry die--she could have come back, too!

Horseshit. No one could actually figure out what happened to Devon, although they suspected a virus. But one thing you don't find in the description of his case is any serious or permanent damage done to his brain as a result of the virus. By contrast, remember what they called Terry Schiavo's brain? Mush. Doctors told Devon's family they "doubted" he would recover, but doctors were firm and unanimous (video diagnostician Bill Frist notwithstanding) that Schiavo would never recover, given her advanced brain atrophy. A kid who suddenly falls ill may never recover, but a woman with a serious injury that decimates a goodly part of her brain will never recover.

What else makes this a pathetic attempt at comparison in order to score points serving a political agenda? Devon's a young boy, still growing and with great potential for healing and new brain activity; Schiavo a middle-aged woman with no hope of cerebral regeneration. Devon's also a minor, which means his parents have undisputed say over the boy's treatment; Schiavo was an adult previously capable of making her own decisions.

And that brings us to the most important difference: as far as we know, Devon never told his family, "If I'm suddenly afflicted with a mystery disease that puts me in a coma, don't kill me!" Terry Schiavo, on the other hand, was determined to have said on multiple occasions that she had no desire to live an extended time in PVS. To take a boy who clearly wanted to live, and make his story a lesson about how society went wrong arguing over a woman who clearly did not, makes me angrier than Ron Saxton at a PERS Benefits Administration conference.

I'm not launching a broad attack on the pro-life movement; this group of wackos is a much smaller slice of anti-abortion sentiment--folks overwrought by "tragedies" such as contraception and discarded in-vitro embryos. Get the hint: you people had your chance to make a case in the court of public opinion, and your side lost overwhelmingly. So quit trying to take miracles that make the rest of us feel good about life and living, and turning them into object lessons for our supposedly guilty consciences. This has NOTHING to do with Terry Schiavo, you nutbags. Fuck off.