Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Death should come despite (not because of) our efforts

Starving and dehydrating a helpless woman on International Water Day just points out how barbaric this action is. I believe Terri Schiavo's sentient, but the thought of her pain makes me almost wish she weren't. In a public restaurant, water must be made available to anyone who asks. In absence of her feeding tube, Terri is not allowed to even try her luck with a Dixie cup to prove she can live independently.

Here's a good article from the NRO explaining how Judge Whittemore in Florida is short-circuiting the obvious intent of Congress which legislated a from-scratch (de novo) review of the case. If a new examination including the early days of this case isn't made, we can never dispute Judge Greer's previous finding of "fact" that Michael Schiavo's reportage of his wife's wish to die represented her true intent. If we can't get back to that essential question, it becomes difficult to deal with anything after it. It has been highlighted that more than single-person hearsay would be needed even in a probate hearing over Grandma's half-acre. But as Andrew McCarthy notes, it's on to the Apellate Court.


Here's Thomas Sowell's thoughtful, concise view of the topic:


Although my emotions and instincts say that purposely starving and dehydrating a sentient person to death is a horror, I don't believe we need to rely on feelings to have concerns about the case. Whether Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (a definition whose meaning has been expanded over the years and now includes conscious humans, too) and whether she preferred to die rather than live in such a condition are the key issues.

The doors of inquiry along these lines have been closed by Judge Greer's earlier rulings and Michael Schiavo's obstruction to having his wife undergo modern diagnostic analysis of her present condition. I think Congress' recent action, prompted by its onus to represent the voices of its constituency, is proper. They've not specified a result, but a thorough review of all aspects of the case and its history to insure that Terri's constitutional rights to life, liberty, and due process are observed. Given that we allow inmates on Death Row tremendous latitude in filing appeals which delay their sentences, and given that we wouldn't starve them for weeks regardless of the outcome of their appeals, restoration of Terri's food and water until a complete review is made is appropriate.

Some think that Congress' action was merely political grandstanding. Some of those accusers come from states where municipal law punishes you for not having a long enough leash for your dog in the backyard. For them to complain of the instrusiveness of the federal government in this case- when life (not just way of life) is at stake, is hypocritical to my mind. But I'm sure they'd say the same of my perspective.

As Cal Thomas notes (hat tip: LaShawn Barber) But the hypocrisy label can be turned around. Didn’t liberals reject states rights when it came to civil rights for African-Americans four decades ago, and didn’t they make federal cases out of such things as integrated restrooms and universities? They supported sending federal troops to force integration on unwilling states. They were right to do so then, and conservatives are right to ask the federal government to intervene when a Florida judge has, in effect, ordered the murder of Terri Schiavo by denying her food and water.

The rest of LaShawn's round-up and insightful commentary is here:

For disabled or seriously ill people, I'm concerned that we may be setting a precedent where one person's word can put another to death. I'm concerned that the evidence of Terri's lifelong, faithful practice of Catholicism is totally ignored as if it were non-representative of her intents and values. In general, and especially in trials, we judge a person by his actions more than his words which may be insincere or misremembered. Why do we not show that bias here?

The current scenario where immediate family is in disagreement with the medical actions does not even satisfy the demands of the Groningen protocol, the guideline used in Holland to assess the acceptable cases for euthanasia. If a strongly right-to-die country wouldn't deprive her of food and water, how firm can we feel in doing it?

Why can't we send her home to live with the father and mother who want to absorb all the cost and effort of her care? Why must we prioritize the wishes of a man who received his rights to dictate Terri's care by a marriage that he flaunts through his common-law wife and their offspring?

People have argued that for Michael Schiavo, it's not about money or he would've accepted the generous financial offers made for him to renounce custody. Well...

Perhaps I read too many crime stories, and this falls into the unfounded guess bucket, but one unsusbstantiated theory is that Michael Schiavo could have a larger concern than money in controlling his wife's body and the biological evidence from her intital injuries that is carried, and as yet unexamined, within her. His unwillingness to allow scrutiny of her condition and his refusal to allow reahabilitative therapies makes me wonder whether, given her family's unflagging attention, if Michael Schiavo might worry that Terri's voice or body can confess how she became as she is. I wonder whether his own liberty might not be at stake in his relentless desire to see his wife dead and her body immediately cremated. Perhaps it doesn't matter how much you pay your shyster from your wife's medical fund if he helps you stay in the clear for something far worse than fiduciary misconduct. Many people are bending backwards to be dispassionate and open-minded towards Michael Shiavo despite their feelings. As for me, I'm not accusing, but I'll admit to being angry and suspicious.

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