I thought about trying to come up with some creative title for this article, but there’s been enough “creativity” surrounding the case of this poor woman from Florida, Terri Schiavo.
This case is a reminder — as if one were necessary — that life, like politics, is not always a happy affair.
It’s difficult — no, actually, it’s impossible — to know the best way to approach this topic. I’ve deliberately waited a few days to give myself time to think…and hopefully to allow emotions (not just mine, but everyone’s) to become a little less raw.
Depending on which poll you read, approximately seven out of every ten Americans think Congress should have stayed out of the Schiavo case. Frankly, that surprised me. For once, the American public displays more intelligence than those who routinely dupe them.
That same poll showed 63 percent of people agreed with the decision to remove Terri’s feeding tube, with only 28 percent opposed. Even a Fox poll shows only 22 percent would keep the tube inserted. The Fox poll reveals that conservatives are less likely (56 to 70 percent) than liberals to think the tube should be removed. In another demonstration of their intellectual superiority, conservatives are also less likely to think any funds should be provided to pay health care costs….
Fifty percent of Americans think the spouse should make the decision, while 31% think it should be the parents. Frankly, if my parents overrode my spouse’s decision, I’d find some way to shake off my belief that death is the end of life; I’d come back to haunt them in the worst way.
Worse than what Terri is going through, I think, is what’s happening around her. If the news reports I’ve read are true — and who the hell can tell that these days? — Terri’s frontal lobe has essentially been replaced with cerebrospinal fluid. Talk about Terri feeling pain, if these stories are true, seem to be as bogus as the claims that she’s responsive to her environment. There’s no “Terri” there to suffer.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no suffering around this case. On the one hand, we have the husband who is accused by people who have no evidence for this — other than that created by the drive of their own private agendas — of wanting his wife dead. Some people — even a Florida legislator — have called for a criminal investigation into the events leading to Terri’s brain damage, which occurred 15 years ago. There have been accusations that he’s “in it for the money” even though, by all reports, there isn’t any money. For his part, Mr. Schiavo is currently working as an emergency room nurse, a career he chose because of his wife’s situation. And so hungry is he for money, that he has turned down offers ranging from $1-$10 million to back off and let his in-laws disregard his wife’s wishes. Sounds like a real selfish dude, doesn’t he?
Then there’s Congress, with Republican Congressman from Tennessee, Zach Wamp, who says “this is not about politics” before going on to note that conservatives are trying to keep Terri alive, while liberals are trying to kill her. (CSPAN televised congressional debate over S686 private bill for Schiavo, which I personally watched March 21, 2005.) Congressional physicians who, as even the Fresno Bee points out, would never diagnose someone from a home video — imagine the malpractice exposure! — have nevertheless decided the time was ripe to continue playing doctor via TV. I’m not even going to pit the children living in poverty who could have benefited from the 4 to 5 million dollars spent on this debate against Ms. Schiavo. (It’s amazing to see the number of “news” stories out there already with the exact words, “The few, objecting House Democrats have so far cost Mrs. Schiavo two meals today,” while there are virtually none noting how many other Americans have gone hungry through the acts of House Republicans.)
And everyone knows the 19 judges sitting in six different courts over at least seven years clearly had some personal agenda to kill Terri. (They were co-conspirators with the police to whom Carla Iyer spoke — see below.) Clearly, these judges never listened to a word of testimony.
And testimony there is. A nurse, fired from the hospital long ago, suddenly revealed in 2003 that all the doctors and others who have testified in the case so far are lying. She personally heard Terri speak meaningful words and phrases. She responded and exhibited a sense of humor. It’s “medically possible” — is that more potent than just “possible”? — that Michael Schiavo routinely injected his wife with regular insulin, although she says, “I don’t have any way of knowing for sure.” Yes, “for sure” she’s not making this up, she says; she just has no proof of it and, hey, it brings her some notoriety. She’s quite believable, too. After she reported what was happening to the police, she was fired. End of story. I know how she feels. That often happens here in Fresno/Clovis when people report crimes to the police.
The sad fact of the matter is just that the fact of the matter is sad. Terri Schiavo, for all practical intents and purposes, is gone. This doesn’t change even if you really believe that 19 different judges in six different courts in virtual unanimous agreement have totally screwed it up. I’m sorry. I don’t care how poor you think our court system is, it’s just too tough to swallow that.
It’s time to put the agendas aside, people. Develop a little shame. Terri Schiavo may be brain-dead, but that doesn’t give Congress or anyone else the right to treat her like a piece of property useful for the advancement of their own political goals.
Terri’s scenario plays out daily across the United States. But as a friend of mine noted, “This case is special.” Among other things, Terri’s not black. (Seriously, do you think if she was, you’d have heard anything about her situation?)
Personally, if I had not already decided that the Republican Party is more likely the party of Satan than the party of God, this would convince me:
S. 529, The Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act
- Teri [sic — so concerned are they, they couldn’t even spell her frickin’ name right] Schiavo is subject to an order that her feeding tubes will be disconnected on March 18, 2005 at 1 p.m.
- The Senate needs to act this week, before the Budget Act is pending business, or Terri’s family will not have a remedy in federal court.
- This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue.
- This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida [a Democrat] has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats.
- The bill is very limited and defines custody as “those parties authorized or directed by a court order to withdraw or withhold food, fluids, or medical treatment.”
- There is an exemption for a proceeding “which no party disputes, and the court finds, that the incapacitated person while having capacity, had executed a written advance directive valid under applicably law that clearly authorized the withholding or or [sic] withdrawl [sic] of food and fluids or medical treatment in the applicable circumstances.”
- Incapacitated persons are defined as those “presently incapable of making relevant decisions concerning the provision, withholding or withdrawl [sic] of food fluids or medical treatment under applicable state law.”
- This legislation ensures that individuals like Terri Schiavo are guaranteed the same legal protections as convicted murderers like Ted Bundy.
— “GOP Talking Points on Terri Schiavo” (March 21, 2005) ABC News (emphasis added).
Nothing like a little emotion on a great political issue to get the pro-life base excited, eh? Sadly, that — and not the Republican Party’s undying love for the already-departed Ms. Schiavo — is the reason for all the hoopla.