Friday, March 25, 2005

That Poor Woman

Well, I guess everybody's got to put up something about Terri Schiavo, so here are my thoughts...

I've been following this issue out there on the blogs and columns, and via Steven Green and one of the local talk-radio guys I listen to, Barry Young, I was directed to this Charles Krauthammer column. Dr. Krauthammer just about sums up my thoughts.

There is so much wrong here, and far too many people are inserting their own agendas into this story for me to believe much good will be achieved out of Terri Schiavo's story. The obvious exception is that her story has inspired many to begin a discussion with their loved ones on what their wishes are with regard to extreme medical care, and more importantly, getting those wishes written down, either formally through a living-will, or informally via another method. Perhaps this will be Terri's legacy.

But, as I said, there are so many who are wrong here. I have partially followed what Rush has been saying here. He's obviously fallen into the trap of believing that if we could only pass a federal law, that the courts would have to defer to the wishes of the Schindlers. Hannity is deep into this hole. This Congressional and Presidential activism is coming from the guys who decry judicial activism. I can still listen to Rush, as he gets beyond this from time to time, but I've largely given up on Hannity. Yesterday he was doing his show from Florida--deeply pandering to those with pro-life sensibilities.

Similarly, Fox News has become "All Terri, All Day". I cannot bring myself to change the channel (as CNN, MSNBC, etc are still unacceptable), but their reporting has become far too repetitious. Today, they are emphasizing the connection to Good Friday, and are furthering the Left's belief that the 'Religious Right' is controlling the media.

The Republicans in Congress and President Bush have, in some ways, had their hands tied here. The right thing for them to have done would have been to complain mightily about how unfairly the State of Florida's courts are treating Terri, and then acknowledge that none of that makes this a federal issue. But instead, they tipped their hats to the Religious Right, and passed that ineffective law. Are the Religious Right that important to the Republicans? Now we know.

Michael Schiavo has been excoriated by most of those on the Right. There are many stories out there about how much money he's made or might make through his wife's death--stories that are undoubtedly lacking in full truth. That he has avoided the media here is both sensible and has lead to what we know of him. I believe he knows that he cannot be fairly treated by the media, so why indulge them at all? But, by not getting his story out there, he allows those who are willing to speak to the media to set the tone of the story. All this said, he is a flawed character in this story. That he has moved onto another relationship, and has fathered two children with this other woman is both admirable, and makes his representation of Terri's wishes suspect.

Barry Young made a point yesterday which bears repeating: The Courts in this issue are Courts of Law, not Courts of Compassion or Courts of "What's Right". They have to answer the central question: Which party--Michael Schiavo or the Schindlers--best represents Terri's wishes. In the absence of written evidence of her wishes, they have to defer to the law. The Courts too, have been excoriated by the media and many on the Right. They want Compassion, which the Courts cannot deliver.

However, the Law should allow some compassion here. That the best the Law might allow is to starve this poor woman is a travesty. I mean, the contents of a Last Meal is one of the few compassions we offer to someone the Law is about to execute. We had to put down one of our beloved dogs last year. The right way to euthanize a pet is to make them as comfortable as possible as you relieve them of their suffering. The Law ought to have similar latitude when dealing with someone like Terri. Not that it would have helped Terri--without written evidence of her wishes, but perhaps Dr. Kervorkian was right.

No comments: