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December 06, 1975 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-12-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Quinlan: Mistakes at every step

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Karen Quinlan resulted from
a series of mistakes, mistakes
which have caused a far great-
er tragedy than the prolonged
death of a single woman.
The first mistake was Karen's.
You don't have to be a toxi-
cologist to know that one doesn't
mix tranquilizers with alcohol.
Judging from the severity of
the coma, there can be little,
doubt that she took more than
one tranquilizer and one gin
and tonic.
The next mistake was Joseph
Quinlan's decision to seek the
legal authority to turn off Kar-
en's respirator. To actually "pull
the plug" on such a patient
amounts to active euthanasia.
Had either the doctors or Mr.
Quinlan simply pulled the plub
on Karen's respirator, they
could have been liable for crim-
inal prosecution. Certainly no
judge would have given a se-
vere sentence, but the act is
nevertheless illegal.
In such cases, responsible
physicians usually stop making
heroic efforts to save the per-
son's life. For instance, should
the patient have a heart at-
tack, they might not rush in
the defibrilator. The physicians
erred by not explaining this to
the Quinlans before they de-
cided to go to court.
sion to go to the law, Joseph
Quinlan regrettably decided to
seek the advice of Attorney
Paul Armstrong. Had Armstrong
been concerned for the best in-
terest of the Quinlans, he would
have told them to go back and
talk it over with the doctors.
Instead he decided to take their
case to court.
The Quinlans had everything
to lose by going to court. The
law was definately against their
case. By every legal definition
available, Karen is alive. To
turn off the respirator is an act
of homicide. Armstrong, on the
other hand had everything to
gain. The national exposure
would help his reputation and
bolster, his practice.
Armstrong's case was an em-
barrassment to the legal pro-

fession. He began by contending
that Karen was legally dead.
Since there was no evidence, le-
gal, moral, or medical, to de-
fend this claim, he dropped it
half-way through the trial. He
then made an argument for "a
right to die" based on the first
and eighth amendments to the
proclaims religious freedom; the
eighth amendment prevents
cruel and unusual punishment.
There are limits to religious
freedom. Should one decide that
his religion involved homicide
(as Charles Manson did) the
law would hopefully defend the
possible victims. Concerning the
eighth emendment, even doctors
do not know the extent of Kar-
en's suffering. Clearly these
amendments do not logically im-
ply a right to die.

irresponsible fashion. Both mag-
azines made Armstrong's absurd
case into a headline. Both mag-
azines began their stories with
emotionally charged graphic de-
scriptions of Karen's condition.
Neither magazine pointed out
the foolishness of taking the
case to court, nor did they ex-
plicitly explain that in ruling
for "a right to die" Judge Muir
would give legal sanction to a
The results of this tragic se-
ries of mistakes have reached
frightening proportions.
Because Joseph Quinlan de-
cided to take the case to court,
his own agony and that of his
wife and daughter have been
prolonged. By now, the doctors
in charge of the case would
have found some passive, legal-
ly acceptable way to allow Kar,
en to die. But under the in-

she was described as taking up-
pers and downers to suit her
mood. The Quinlans, who are
devout Catholics, were most
likely upset to read in Time
that their daughter had been
living with two men before her
Because of the way the media
handled the case, the majority
of Americans have misunder-
stood the issue in question. In
a poll taken last week, more
than two thirds of those ques-
tioned said they thorght Judge
Muir ruled incorrectly. In fact,
Judge Muir's decision provided
the most intelligent analysis of
the case to date, Muir wrote:
The nature, extent and duration
of care by societal standards
is the responsibility of the phy-
sician. The morality and con-
science of our society places
this responsibility in the hands
of the physician." For the first
time, the ridiculous nature of
the care of his daughter could
be taken from her doctors and
given to the courts. The courts
may be somewhat of a, moral
authority, but they are certain-
ly not a medical authority.
ENCOURAGED by Armstrong,
and supported by a misleading
press and a misled public, the
Quinlans have decided to take
the case to the New Jersey Su-
preme Court. This decision will
prolong Karen's life even more
by keeping the national spotlight
on the case. Undoubtedly, the
higher court will also deny their
The common law is- not the
law of nature, and it is not the
law of God. By taking the case
to court, the Quinlans made
their daughter's life a point of
law, and while humanistic ethi-
cal thinking would condone al-
lowing her to die, the law does


"Quinlan was suing so that the care of
his daughter could be taken from her doc-
tors and given to the courts. The courts
may be somewhat of a moral authority, but
they are certainly not a medical authority."

not. And perhaps it should not.
Too often our courts of law are
the sites of gross injustice; too
often they become the sight of
legal games, with the winner's
stakes going to the party that
can afford the best lawyer.
The dlision to prolong a pa-
tient's life should be made joint-
ly by the patient, the family, and
the doctors. Before we allow our
courts of law to consider the
problem of when there is a
right to die, we should be sure
that these courts are capable
enough to protect those rights
already in their custody.
Doc Kralik is a member of
the Editorial Page staff.

Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Ml 48104

Even so, what if there were
a constitutional right to die?
Police would give escorts to
people committing suicide so
that distraught relatives could
not stop them. A doctor who
pumped out a suicide's stomach
could be brought to court for
violating that person's constitu-
tional rights. The ethical suicide
parlors that Kurt Vonnegut fear-
ed would spring up next to ev-
ery Howard Johnson's would al-
ready be upon us.
azines were the next to blun-
der in the case. "Time" and
"Newsweek," which are the ma-
jor sources of news analysis
for most Americans both hand-
led the story in an 'extremely

tense scrutiny of the national
media, they are powerless to
do so.
case to court has brought the
Quinlans even more anguish.
The Quinlans thought of her as
a "friendly, outgoing girl." By
the time Time and Newsweek
had finished their investigations,

r------ 1

Saturday, December 6, 1975

News Phone: 764-0552

Letters to The Datly

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Tenants' bills on their way

Michigan House Urban Affairs
Committee for approving two bills de-
signed to protect the rights of ten-
If the bills are passed and signed
into, law, landlords will no longer be
allowed to enter tenants' apartments
without permission (except in emer-
gency situations) or to evict tenants
without first obtaining a court order.
Naturally, state landlords have
been up in arms about the bills ever
since their introduction. In the first
case, they're afraid their jobs might
be less pleasant if renters are home
every time a landlord enters an
apartment to make or fake repairs.
In the second, they don't look for-
ward to having to go before a judge
and prove their own compliance with
lease provisions before being able to
evict tenants.
The landlord lobby in Lansing is a
powerful one, and the tenant bills
have a rough road ahead. But they
can do so much for tenants' rights
in this state that it's worth a little
Today's Staff:
News: Barb Cornell, George Lobsenz,
Sara Rimer, Jeff Ristine, Jeff Soren-
sen, Bill Turque
Editorial Page: Paul Haskins, Debra
Hurwitz, Tom Kettler, Linda Kloote,
Arts Page: James Volk
Photo Technician: Ken Fink

extra effort to work for their pack-
We encourage all local renters to
write their state legislators and let
them know that the landlords aren't
the only ones interested in the ten-
ants' bills' fate.

c! Lw


Photography Staff
Chief Photographer Picture Editor
E. SUSAN SHEINER .... Staff Photographer
GORDON TUCKER . .. Staff Photographer
Business Manager
Rob Cerra.................Operations Manager
Peter Capian ........ ........ .. Finance Manager
Beth Friedman................Sales Manager
Dave Piontkowsky............ Display Manager
Pete Petersen..............Sales Coordinator
MANAGERS: Dan Brinza, Kathy Mulhein, Oassie
St Clair
STAFF: John Benbow, Debbie Dreyfuss, Jan
f ichinger, Denise Giardone, Dede Goldman,
Amy Hartman, Beth Kirchner, Cathy Lasky,
Nancy Lombardi, Kathleen Matthews, Vicki
Nancy Lombardi, Kathleen Matthews, Dennis
Photography Staff
Chief Photographer
STEVE KAGAN ..............Staff Photographer
PAULINE LUBENS ..........Staff Photographer
s n

::.....f The Lighter Side.r:...... ..
Hobnobbing in China:
Small talk at the top
Dick West,
though the efficacy of President
Ford's visit to China was not'
always apparent to the untrain-
ed eye, the White House says itr
was "significant" and that's
good enough for me
I suppose that what might be
called the highlight of the tripA---:
was the President's two-hour
talk with Communist Party ~
Chairman Mao Tse-tung.
It so happened that as Ford
was winding up his journey, I r
was having dinner at a Chinese
restaurant that imports fortune
cookies from Peking.
Fortunately, one of the cookies
I opened contained what ap--
peared to be a summary of the
Ford-Mao discussions..
Although I can't vouch forits
authenticity, it seems to sup- -
port the White House claim that
the talk was "friendly, candid, Mao
substantial and constructive."
According to the fortune cookie, Ford began the conversation
by remarking that he was pleased to see Mao looking so well.
MAO REPLIED THAT although he had been poorly for some
time, he had picked up a bit lately and was -beginning to feel like
his old self again.
The President said he was glad to hear that.
Mao asked if the President had had a pleasant journey from
The President said he always found traveling broadening
although he was having some difficulty adjusting to the time
Mao commented that he had heard about the jet lag but had
never experienced it personally since he usually stuck pretty
close to home.
The President reached into a paper bag and presented Mao
with a jar of home-made watermelon rind preserves that Mrs.
Ford put up last summer. Mao thanked the President for his
thoughtfulness and asked if this was Ford's first visit to China.
The President said no, he had visited China once when he was
minority leader of the House of.Representatives.
THE CHAIRMAN SAID he thought Ford's face looked familiar.
He said that although he couldn't remember things as well as he
used to, he seldom forgot a face.
The President asked if there was anything he might do to
improve relations between the two countries.
Mao suggested that Ford stop playing footsie with the Russians
and break off relations with Taiwan.
Ford said he guessed he had better be going as he had
tickets to a ballet entitled "Ode to the Yimeng Mountains" and
he didn't want to miss it.
Mao said he hoped Ford would enjoy it although he personally
found Chinese ballets rather boring. He added that he was feeling
kind of pooped and thought he might lie down for a while and

Return is a clear example of
rape the principle that -any society is
To The Daily: allowed to determine rules of
preference in matters of immi-
I WAS INFORMED by a stu- gration which affect the com-
lent that a male professor at position of its population. This
this University made the state- principle was recognized in the
ment in class that "It is im- International Convention on the
possible for a man to rape a Liquidation of any Form of Ra-
woman." This is a blatant false- cial Discrimination, which was
hood and an irresponsible com- approved by the U.N. General
ment. Assembly (Dec. 21, 1965). Para-
I have worked with the Rape graph (3) 1 determines that in
Education Committee of the the application of any part of
Women's Crisis Center for two the convention it should not be
years and have served as a interpreted as contrary to the
sexual assault counselor in legal directives of the states
Washtenaw County for the past who are party to the Conven-
eight months. It is attitudes tion with regard to nationality,
like this professor's that makes citizenship, or naturalization,
our work necessary and diffi- "on the, condition that such di-
cult. I dare this man 'to deal rectives do not discriminate
with some of my rape victims against a specific people." The
and then tell me they have nev- Israeli Law of Return giving
er been raped. I was disap- preference to Jews, but not dis-
pointed to discover that such a criminating against specific peo-
well - educated and influential ple, conforms to the terms of
man could make such a state- the Convention.
ment in front of a class of 70 Hln
students. This statement was However, let's for instance in-
damaging, and underscores the vestigate the laws of just one
need for formal mechanisms by Arab country (skipping over no-
which students can challenge torious Saudi-Arabia) and con-
incidents of sex discrimination centrate on just one law of
in the classroom.

Jordan. In the Jordanian citizen-
ship law No. 6 (Feb. 4, 1954),
we find in paragraph 3: "Any
man will be a Jordanian sub-
ject if - ... (3) if he is not
Jewish, was a Palestinian sub-
ject before May 15, 1948 and
on the day of publication of this
law his permanent place of resi-
dence was in Hashamite Jor-
dan." Obviously, the Jordanian
citizenship law, directed against
Jews and only against them, ex-
plicitly contradicts the terms
of the Convention.
Finally, the 1974 Report on
Torture by "Amnesty Interna-
tional" (a body widely acclaim-
ed by both left and right) lists
more than 50 countries which
have severely infringed upon hu-
man rights, including nine Arab
States, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and
Spain. None of these have been
condemned in U.N. forums.
Where else but in a kangaroo
court would one find a situa-
tion where the Soviet Union,
Iraq, Saudi-Arabia and Uganda
condemn others on issues of
human rights?
R. Kopelman
Chemistry Dept.
November 26

Ilene Smoger
December 5

To The Daily:
I WONDER IF any of the
students are aware of a prob-
lem that exists at Campus
Broadcasting, specifically at the
AM station, WRCN.
Apparently, some of the disc
jockeys are stealing the station's
45's and albums. Since I start-
ed working at WRCN about six
weeks ago, I have noticed that
much of our best material is
now gone, and more seems to
disappear each week.
The station's Program Direc-
tor and Chief Announcer are
aware of the problem and are.
at this moment, taking new se-
curity precautions to see that
the ripoffs stop. But I personally
wonder how a few selfish peo-
ple can deprive the whole staff,
and more importantly, our lis-
teners, of the good music we
need to keep WRCN going.
I appeal to all of those in-
volved to stop their thievery at
once unless they want to see
the end of WCRN as we know it.
Howard Cohn
November 30
To The Daily:
a concerted effort to defend the
notorious U.N. resolution ("Zion-
ism is a form of racism"). The
technique is to show that there
is an "element of truth" in the
accusation. This reminds me of
the countries where known mur-
derers walk around openly and
freely while innocent people are
convicted and punished for their
"murderous ideas."

Contact your reps-
Sen. Phillip Hart (Dem), 253 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Robert Griffin (Rep), 353 Russell Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Rep. Marvin Esch (Rep), 2353 Rayburn Bldg., Capitol Hill,
Washington, D.C. 20515.
Sen. Gilbert Bursley (Rep), Senate, State Capitol Bldg.,
Lansing, Mi. 48933.
Rep. Perry Bullard (Dem), House of Representatives, State
Capitol Bldg., Lansing, Mi. 48933.

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