Of mice and men and suffering until death

Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005 at 11:15 p.m.
I am very sorry for the loss the Schindler and Schiavo families recently experienced, but would like to offer another perspective on this complicated issue.
I am a veterinarian who does research on animals (mice). I would like to point out that if any of my mice developed a central nervous system (CNS) injury, and I forced the staff to leave it alone and let it lie in its cage and starve to death, I would lose my privileges as a researcher and never be allowed to use animals for research again.
I also would probably lose my job, and face charges for animal cruelty.
If I was in small animal clinical practice and had a dog as a patient that had developed a CNS injury, and I forced my staff to make him lie in a cage without treating him and not give him any type of food or water for two to three weeks until he died, the consequences for me would be: The owners of the dog would sue me for malpractice. The AVMA would revoke my license to practice medicine. I would be fined and put in jail for animal cruelty.
Similarly, if I was in large animal clinical practice, and had a horse as a patient that developed a CNS injury, and I were to demand he lay in the middle of his pasture for 2 to 3 weeks without treatment until it starved to death, again I would lose my license, be sued for malpractice and put in jail.
Where are the ethical considerations of the American Medical Association? Why aren't these doctors who treated Terri Schiavo being held accountable and sued for malpractice?
The AMA needs to institute some alternative form of euthanasia, because that's exactly what they did to Schiavo under the pretense of some other label.
All living creatures, from mice to men, deserve a compassionate alleviation of suffering, and what these doctors and the AMA allowed to happen was a barbaric form of torture and murder.
Jennifer E. Embury, Alachua

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