Using Terri: The Religious Right's Conspiracy to Take Away Our Rights

Jon B. Eisenberg, Author
Jon B. Eisenberg, Author HarperOne $24.95 (275p) ISBN 978-0-06-087732-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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The debate among Terri Schiavo's relatives over whether to withdraw the feeding tube that kept her alive in a persistent vegetative state for over a decade was settled in March, when, after seven years of litigation and several attempts by state and national legislatures to overturn Florida's court ruling, the tube was removed and Terri died in her husband Michael's arms. But according to Eisenberg, a lawyer who filed briefs on behalf of Michael, the national debate over whether Americans have the right to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment is just getting started. Eisenberg draws upon his previous experience with right-to-die cases to situate the Schiavo drama into an ongoing battle among bioethicists, clergy, right-to-lifers, doctors, politicians, lawyers and individual families. His book is as much a clarion call to protect the rights of personal autonomy as it is a step-by-step review of the Schiavo proceedings and a clear analysis of the legal issues involved. He speaks with engaging intimacy of his introduction to the debate through the illness of a favorite cousin, and the personal touch continues in the book's combination of analysis, reportage, declaration and memoir. Eisenberg raises substantial and urgent legal issues, and the accusations he fires-that the video clips of Terri shown on TV were grossly distorted by editing, that Tom DeLay, who sponsored a Congressional bill mandating the reinsertion of Terri's feeding tube, once ended life-sustaining treatment for his own father, that the religious right aims to dismantle the court system entirely-are potent. With legislation that would bar feeding tube removal pending in 12 states, this book is a timely and cogent argument for Americans' right to decide such end of life issues for themselves.
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