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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It is an intensely personal thing with me: Sen. Thompson's daughter & Terri Schiavo

In a news conference on Monday, former Senator Fred Thompson answered a question about the Terri Schiavo case:

"I had to face a situation like that in my own personal life with my own daughter [Elizabeth Panici]. I am a little bit uncomfortable about that because it is an intensely personal thing with me. These things should be decided by the family. The federal government and the state government too, except for the court system, ought to stay out of those matters.

"I was at that bedside. And I had to make those decisions with the rest of my family. No matter which decision you make, you will never know whether or not you made exactly the right decision."

Elizabeth had suffered from bipolar disorder and died in 2002 from an accidental drug overdose. Toxicology tests of her blood showed six times the lethal level of hydrocodone, a painkiller. She arrived unconscious at a Tennessee hospital, where staff revived her, and apparently placed her on life support. Mr. Thompson did not say who ultimately made the decision to withdraw her from life support. She never regained consciousness, and six days later, she was pronounced dead.

Advice to family members with a gravely ill relative: Consider hospice care as an alternative to life support in a hospital.

Read a peaceful end of life story, or read Marc Santora’s source story in today’s New York Times.

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