I’ve had a brief e-mail conversation regarding the Terri Schiavo case with a fellow Colorado blogger – who happens to hail from a different part of the country and have a different worldview than I. That’s fine. On one of his latest e-mails he invited me to share my public comment. To do so, I am reprinting his words in italics and my response in normal font. One note to share… the “other cases” he refers to can be found here and here. Judge for yourself if they are comparable to Terri’s case – the problem hinges on my critic’s suggestion that Terri’s nourishment constitutes life support in the same way a ventilator keeps a terminally ill patient alive.
I’m sure I won’t be able to answer all his objections to his satisfaction, for despite my best efforts to point him to credible facts that refute his claims, he continues to hold fast to his beliefs. But here goes:
I find it disgusting and tragic that Terri Schiavo has been dragged through this, and as a smaller-government centrist Democrat, take issue with the political showboating going on. That is why I point out the hypocrisy. I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable, it would make me uncomfortable if I was in your situation too. No doubt the folks on the ground really think they’re doing something to help her, but the folks leading the charge are using her lifeless body as a bloody flag to pimp the “Culture of Life” which in these cases is revealed as just a rhetorical club to be deployed when politically useful.
Anyone who is spending their time focusing on the Schiavo case is aware of these other cases – which are occuring as we speak and were directly caused by a law signed by Bush – and doesn’t acknowledge the double standard inherent in the Republican Party’s strategy today is guilty of hypocrisy. There’s no other way to look at it in my mind.
Quite simply… “There’s no other way to look at it in my mind.” What else can I say? It is fine that he is predisposed to look at Terri’s case and the action of Congress and the President to intervene on her behalf this way. Let it be noted that I have never once introduced political party or conservative/liberal ideology into this discussion.
What I will say is this is a complex and unique case. An honest and open-minded look at the many facts and facets involved leads the serious person to many weighty thoughts and discussions. That my critic is so dead certain about the motives of those involved not only presents a distraction from more important matters at hand but also sends up red flags about his own bias and predispositions.
And spare me the patronizing about my level of comfort with the federal government’s course of action. That’s not the issue: the issue is that someone had to step in and defend Terri’s due process rights under the 14th Amendment. The unique and urgent circumstances necessitated the course of action.
Here’s the facts. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Terri’s Law I unconstitutional. The Supreme Court declined review. The end. If there was credible reason to believe that neccesary voices hadn’t been heard from in the first trial, the US Supreme Court would not have
declined to review it. Everything beyond that has been showboating. The hope now that you’ll get a friendly judge in some lower federal district court is a prime example of the judicial activism that Republican’s are so disdainful of when it goes against them. More hypocrisy in action.
Is this case so much more important and/or clear cut than these cases in Texas? Where’s Sam’s Law and Spiro’s Law?
I don’t blame you, so don’t get me wrong. You, and many of the others involved have good intentions and you’re as much a victim as Terri. But I think it should weigh on your conscience that your leadership in Washington is pimping this case while ignoring these other cases which are direct results of their allegiance to Big Medicine. And you’re along for the ride. You’re now aware of the hypocrisy, what will you do about it?
The disingenous argumentation continues, but I will only address his one-sided assertion of “the facts.” A grasp of how the legal system works would demonstrate that the appeals process within the state court system does not include a review of the initial judge’s fact-finding, only his interpretation of the law. When you examine the many affidavits he ignored and his acceptance of the “dead certain” analysis of the pro-death doctors over the testimony of many others who have contravened and said she should be re-examined, you are left to wonder why both sides of the story shouldn’t at least be shared. When you learn that Michael Schiavo has kept Terri under tight watch – making sure that she can’t receive medical tests, basic therapy, go outside, or even see her parents at times – you’re forced to ask, “What is he trying to hide?”
If you think that by joining the chorus of voices raising these questions that George Greer stubbornly refused to look at, that I am showboating, then I probably can’t sway your mind at all to even consider the possibility that Terri’s best interests are not in the custody of her adulterous husband.
The other cases deserve a separate examination, and I’ve linked to them above. The critic’s charge of hypocrisy is fine for him to make but somewhat ironic: if you think the cases are all so similar because they all involve “life support,” and if you are so certain that Terri is better off dead, then certainly you must find yourself in support of the law that George Bush signed as governor of Texas.
But no, I suspect that’s not it at all. I conjecture that the critic is less concerned with intellectual consistency than with knee-jerk opposition to the “religious right” and the President. It may be so; I see no other alternative explanation but would be willing to listen.
What will I do about it? Continue to apply the principle that judgments should err in the favor of life when possible, that in the words of James Q. Wilson today – “Keeping people alive is the goal of medicine. We can only modify that policy in the case of patients for whom death is imminent and where all competent family members believe that nothing can be gained by extending life for a few more days” – that human life and human dignity are of the utmost importance and that no one deserves to be starved to death regardless of their level of mental capacity unless they have explicitly stated so beforehand in a legal document, that those enduring such difficult crises and their family members deserve the utmost of our compassion and good will, that we as a society should tread very carefully in matters of life and death, and leave the rest in the hands of Almighty God.
It’s not significantly different. It’s the same thing. Her body cannot eat food. Just as someone on a ventilator can’t breath
[sic] discernable difference between removing one or the other. The difference is there’s plenty of money to keep Schiavo live [sic].
Go read the testimony of a nurse who has attended to her who say she is able to take in ice chips and swallow to a limited extent. Go read the testimony of physicians and therapists who believe there is a legitimate chance she can regain her ability to eat naturally. Then ask yourself: why did the judge’s order include forbidding anyone from feeding Terri through the mouth?
And now I’ll also share a comment the critic left today on my previous post:
I’ll point out, as I pointed out in email, that there is no substantial difference between being on a ventilator and being on a feeding tube. One person can’t breath
[sic] other can’t eat on their own. Without such medical assistance, both would die. Thus the word: life support.
And there’s been no credible medical testimony showing her to be anything but a vegetable.
And if her parents have been so concerned, have they done anything over the last 15 years to gain custody of her? If not, why?
Another assault on the sanctity of marriage by the Republicans. Next thing you know, they’ll be discouraging marriage. Oh wait, they already are!
The snide remarks aside, I’ll leave it to the honest reader to figure out who is politicizing this issue, who is looking for “a rhetorical club” with which to beat his opponent, and who is defending the position that is in Terri’s best interest. What can I say to the absurd insinuation that the Schindlers haven’t been trying to get custody of their daughter for 15 years? No, really… what do you think of her parents?
And to call this “an assault on the sanctity of marriage” is an asinine remark to the nth degree. Michael Schiavo has dishonored his marriage vows for years. That’s fine and that’s his right if he wants to move on with his life, but he can’t have it both ways. If he gave up legal custody over Terri tomorrow, this whole controversy would be over, and she would be in the care of her loving parents.
This isn’t credible medical testimony? (No, really. Click on this. He’s what… a quack? A pathological liar? A religious zealot? A pawn of the right-wing conspiracy? Please, enlighten us.)
To the one who is so certain that Terri must be put down, ask yourself this question before you put your head to the pillow tonight: Is it possible this doctor (and the others who share his opinion) could be right?
I have some more questions for the critic from a narrow-minded and agenda-driven radical religious conservative:
Frankly, I’m skeptical the critic will stop to consider any of the above questions. Therein lies the problem. I’m willing to let the facts be presented in the light of day, to let the doctors and the cameras see Terri, to give therapy a chance, to engage in an honest debate… why can’t the same be said of the other side?
Why the dogmatic rush to death?