X-Message-Number: 25911
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2005 18:56:23 -0500
From: Randolfe Wicker <>
Subject: Terri Schiavo's Body??

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Terri Schiavo's body will probably be another issue of contention after she 
finally dies.

Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, wants her body immediately cremated upon 
death. He is also going to bury her ashes in his family grave plot in 

The parents say cremation violates Roman Catholic beliefs and wants to have 
their daughter buried in Florida near where they live.

Diehards on the "keep the tube connected" side are implying that "instant 
cremation" is desired by the husband to prevent any autopsy that might determine
more definitively whether the order to remove the tube was justified. Some even
hint that the husband might be trying to cover up physical abuse done to his 
wife during the stormy months of their disintegrating marriage immediately prior
to Terri's having the heart failure that left her in this state.

The arguments regarding cremation and religious beliefs have HUGE implications 
for those who want to use cryonics.  Until some cryonicist like Maine-based 
Immortality Institute member," The First Immortal", succeeds in having his legal
argument that "cryonic suspension" is essentially "a religious rite" for those 
who believe in it accepted by the courts, judges may well order traditional 
burial instead.

This situation, in which I am sure the majority of people would probably favor 
the parents' wishes regarding the handling of their daughter's body, highlights 
a very important shortcoming in contemporary law.

An individual cannot make arrangements for cremation that will be effective 
after his/her death without doing it while alive and having his closest relative
sign off on it in advance. In fact, you can't object to cremation either. You 
have no say in the matter. At death, ownership of your body passes to your next 
of kin.

That is a violation of "patients rights". But you legally cease to exist at the 
time of death and any "power of attorney" you've given to anyone expires with 
your death. I believe  Alcor uses a small nuance (loophole?) in this law that 
sets uniform standards for authorized donations of organs or of one's body for 
medical research.

Laws have a life of their own. A law that said the expressed wishes regarding 
burial in a will must be respected could actually lay a good legal framework for
those who want to be cryo-preserved.

However, a law saying that "the religious beliefs of an individual's religion 
cannot be violated" by the person having authority over the body could enable 
family members to stop someone from being cryo-preserved if they were nominal 
members of a recognized religion that officially condemned it.  (This is an 
example of legislation that might be drawn up and passed hurriedly in Florida at
this time to prevent Chiavo's husband from cremating his wife.)

So, the issue of who has control of one's body after death is actually a very 
important one.   

Randolfe H. Wicker
Founder, Clone Rights United Front www.clonerights.com 
Spokesperson, Reproductive Cloning Network, www.reproductivecloning.net 
Correspondent, , StemClone Digest, www.StemCloneDigest.com 
Advisor, The Immortality Institute, www.imminst.org 
201-656-3280 (Mornings)

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