Thursday, March 24, 2005

CONTINGENCY PLANS

As the time to save Terri's life is dwindling down, I think we must begin to think about the possibility that our efforts may not succeed. Which means, what next?

The immediate aftermath of death is often a confused time. People in the midst of the crisis don't function in a deliberate way, unless they have made their plans in advance. A plan that needs to be well-thought out now concerns any autopsy.

Michael has already thought through this eventuality. He plans to yank the body, cremate, and get rid of any evidence. As the guardian, he has the right. Her parents' objections will have no effect.

However, there is one entity that does have jurisdiction. The coroner's office. They can make the hospital send the body to them for autopsy, and refuse any family interference. Even the courts can't arbitrarily step in and block their actions. They also have the right to use the police to enforce their decision.

We need to start talking to the people in the proper offices, and get them to consider stepping in, as soon as necessary. Delay will compromise their examination.

I understand that families find autopsies repugnant, and tend to avoid them as too distressing for those left. But there may be no other way to establish the facts in the case. Coroners are trained to spot evidence of trauma, abuse, and malpractice. They can also preserve evidence that could support Terri's family's claims that she was not PVS.

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