The Terri Schiavo case stirred much moral controversy over what constitutes ordinary care for the dying and what respect we should show for the wishes of the dying. These are serious matters, not discussed often enough. But there are other important moral and medical issues that were widely ignored in the debate.
One of them is the way the U.S. spends a large part of its considerable health care resources on the beginnings and the endings of life, especially the endings. A related fact is that the U.S. spends more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other nation in the world and at the same time manages to leave over 44 million without health insurance. We have grown used to this reality. We are not ashamed of it, nor do we appreciate the pain it brings to many Americans who do not have decent care, including good care in their dying.