When you read this, Terri Schiavo will either be dead or very close to it. There are many take home lessons from this sad case, and few of them are good news. If you assume, at least for a moment, that this poor woman was put on this earth to test how our advanced, compassionate, and “religious” society would deal with her plight, make no mistake: We failed her.
The most obvious lesson, of course, is that, far from the intent of the Framers, the Courts have become the dominant branch of government. Not only can they overturn laws approved by the people, they can impose laws voted on by no one. And, at the Federal level, absent a nearly impossible to invoke impeachment provision, they are installed for life. Yet, and here is the tragic irony, they can protect the rights of the guilty, but cannot protect the rights of the innocent!
Because of the way the law works, once a trial court enters a judgment into the record, that judgment’s findings become the facts of the case, and can only be overturned if the fact finder acted capriciously. Thus, given Michael Schiavo’s far superior legal team, much information favorable to the Schindlers’ side was apparently not put into the record. As such, endless appeals to new forums will accomplish little. And, the central matter of whether Terri really wanted to die, is a “fact” in the case as Michael Schiavo’s version, only.
Somehow, though, when facts in a case apply to a despicable, obviously guilty killer, this standard often gets eased.
The conduct of the mainstream media was appalling, especially in the highly publicized ABC News survey, proclaiming overwhelming public support for pulling the feeding tube. Since the poll question distorted the facts of her condition, it truly became, as some have noted, the first “push poll” for euthanasia. And, by the way, if poll results are so important in this case, what about poll results on gay marriage, which are overwhelmingly against it? Gosh, Peter Jennings, didn’t you think I’d notice? Still, the results would have probably come out the same, even if the question were asked fairly, and more’s the pity.
No doubt, Michael Schiavo is the villain in this drama, but just like the Goldmans naively thought they would get justice for their son Ron in the Simpson case, the Schindlers have taken naivete and active hopelessness to a new level. If there really were doctors who thought they could do something for Terri, the Schindlers should have used the courts to attack the medical facilities involved, threatening more malpractice action, rather than going after Michael, who already achieved undeserved status in this case.
As to the “pro-life” aspects of this case, we must be quite careful. While the analogy can be made between the reprehensible practice of abortion (always for convenience) to euthanasia (for the convenience of the husband of record), at some point, we would be faced with the question of her status, even if the feeding tube were to be left in. Ultimately, there is little difference in deciding between removing the tube, or ceasing attempts to resuscitate a victim in the emergency room. Many have lost sight of the fact that the issue is not so much removing the tube, it is how that decision was arrived at. Had all concerned parties agreed, this matter would not be in the news.
Saying that, we are forced to consider the agendas of each side. Michael Schiavo’s comments about wanting his wife dead, his alleged wife beating, his refusal to divorce her, his prohibitions on visitors and certain medical treatments, his interest in a quick cremation, and his adulterous conduct have had much coverage in the media. For the Schindlers, holding on at this late date, possibly to make up for failing to act more prudently when it mattered, while sad, has also become unseemly. Tragic deaths occur all the time, and the messy and public nature of Terri’s does not make it any more tragic.
A truly comforting aspect of most religions is to remove the fear and sting of death, and if the Schindlers have not acted in a way that underscores this belief, perhaps they can be forgiven. After all, certain “Catholic” nuns have attached to confessed and repentant death row inmates, arguing for clemency. But, if these sisters really did believe in the religion, they would acknowledge that entering eternity a few years early is of no consequence, given the prisoners’ repentance.
A mirror has been held up to us, and what image lies there? First, a Leftist culture that has nothing to champion but death, whether via abortion or euthanasia, hidden behind their fraudulent concern for “victims.” These mountebanks owe their souls to the courts, and when they become old and infirm, the chits will be called in.
For the rest of us, even those on the religious Right, we have had a hand in forming this society, its government, and its morals. The judgment on us, at a much higher tribunal, will be no less harsh.