Thursday, March 24, 2005

This Just In...Again

To the people whose vocabulary regularly includes phrases such as "The Good Lord" and "God Almighty" and "Praised Be Thy Name," it's not a good day.

CNN is reporting that Terri Schiavo's parents, who, late last night filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court, were this morning denied the opportunity to be heard. The Supreme Court, for the most part, is non-partisan and apolitical, so the fact they reviewed the appeal and deemed it unworthy of judicial review says, to me, all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. Legally speaking, there's nothing that can (or should) be done, other than a politician (George Bush, as an example) contravening the Constitution to intervene on behalf of Ms. Schiavo (or, rather, her parents).

A year ago, when Senator John Kerry was campaigning against George W. Bush, and prior to Bush's first election victory, many of the issues surrounding his possible presidency were centered around his dedication and loyalty to the so-called Christian Right. However, many of his critics cited his overwhelming lean to the Christian Right in context with his stance on abortion and the death penalty.

Yet Bush, and his brother, have sounded off on this situation, both (the President speaking publicly, and his brother Jeb passing laws and pleading his case within the confines of the media as well as Florida's state senate) siding with the women's parents, who, despite Ms. Schiavo's wishes, are attempting to keep her alive.

Many of us watching this scene unfold have formed an opinion one way or the other; but much like the hot potatoes of abortion, gay marriage, etc., the principle, and not the actual activity, is what causes our reaction, either for or against. And in this situation, it is fairly clear, despite Ms. Schiavo's parents frenetic attempts to convince us otherwise, that the principle, and each successive court decision upholding it, is that she should be allowed to choose her own destiny, despite the beliefs of her parents, the governor of the state of Florida, and his brother, the President of The United States.

Personally, what repulses me more than Ms. Schiavo's parents attempts to supercede her husband's care for her, whether with good intention or not, is the number of attacks that her parents have levied against Mr. Schiavo. According to what I've read, Mr. Schiavo was accused of neglecting the care of his wife several times over the tenure of her illness; and even now, while he stands up for his wife's wishes, against her family and a gaggle of publicity-seeking politicians who have no legitimate involvement in the situation, what seems sad is that the only person who is truly acting on principle here is her husband.

Her mother yesterday was quoted as saying that even if Ms. Schiavo had a living will and even if she had gone on record saying she would prefer death to being kept alive in a vegetative state, she would still contravene her wishes and make any and all attempt to keep her "alive." And yesterday afternoon, a doctor who was retained by the Schindlers, Ms. Schiavo's parents, indicated that there were possibly new medical developments to consider; this, after 15 years, is suspect, because the new medical developments seem to come, consistently, from doctors who a) are hired by the family and b) who have questionable ethics and affiliations. To wit, the doctor who claimed "new medical developments," Dr. William Cheshire, wrote the following in connection with Ms. Schiavo "I could not withhold life-sustaining nutrition from this beautiful lady whose face brightens in the presence of others." This isn't a medical development, it's an emotional one. And according to, "Cheshire is also director of biotech ethics at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a group founded in 1994 to recognize the contribution of 'biblical values' to the bioethical debate." Using the bible to come between a husband and wife -- sponsored by the state of Florida.


Although Ms. Schiavo's mother, Mary Schindler, has received much of the publicity surrounding the movement to keep Ms. Schiavo alive, her father, Bob Schindler, yesterday joined in the stupidity by suggesting Judge George Greer, the 11th Circuit Judge ruling on the many Terri Schiavo-related issues which have been presented to him, was on a "crusade" to kill her. And to the dozen or so subsequent judicial decisions which have concurred with Judge Greer's opinion, ie that Ms. Schiavo should be allowed (via her husband) to determine her own course, Mr. Schindler intimated last night that the other decisions were, in large part, supporting Judge Greer's (erroneous) decision as opposed to his daughter's well-being.

Clearly he won't be pleased by the fact that Judge Greer denied the petition by the state of Florida to take custody of Ms. Schiavo.

I've seen cases where parents grossly, and grotesquely, overstep their bounds and meddle and/or intervene in a relationship between engaged and/or married couples, but this is beyond ridiculous. Ms. Schiavo's parents obviously are acting out of emotion, and don't want to acknowledge their daughter is, essentially, gone. That's an unfortunate reality, but one they need to face. Blaming a judge, their son-in-law or the governor of Florida isn't going to change that one simple fact.

However, allowing her the dignity to which every human is entitled would at least restore some of the semblance of the life she had, as opposed to the life her parents have been fighting to lengthen.

Each of us has personal history, and based on mine, watching these people countermand every institution and individual who disagrees with them on their daughter's fate, including not only her husband but her own wishes, amazes, sickens and saddens me. Parents have a way of destroying their childrens' lives, both by omission and comission, but this is perhaps the first time I've seen parents destroy a life after, or very nearly after, it has expired.

Unfortunately, I expect there will be much more to be said on this subject.

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