By Alan Mercer
Read this shocking affidavit, which is just one of many at terrisfight.net:
The media’s level of ignorance of important news stories always disappoints me. For years now, we’ve witnessed the media give Bush and Blair the benefit of the doubt with their constant lies concerning Iraq. This week, we were treated to enraging and superficial coverage of the Terri Schiavo case.
All of a sudden, the mainstream media has discovered (original: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/22/opinion/22tue1.html) the concept that the U.S. federal government shouldn’t interfere with the states’ jurisdiction. And they are right about that. It is sad to see the Republicans in the federal government posture in a way that intrudes on the sovereignty of the states.
But frankly, it’s not nearly so sad as the fact that the Florida courts decided that Terri Schiavo’s husband has the right to starve his disabled wife to death, and to deprive her of therapy, despite the wishes of her parents.
I don’t remember having a debate on euthanasia in which “we” decided that giving a brain-damaged woman food and water was an extreme intervention, and that depriving her of food and water was “okay”. I would have just assumed that people would consider killing a woman – who may or may not recover – a totally questionable act, not to mention that starvation and dehydration as a method of death seems very cruel.
As far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate role of government is to protect the basic rights of human beings, and that’s what they – the state of Florida – should be doing here. In this case, the Florida courts think it is their job to carry out the husband’s wishes rather than protect the life of an innocent person. However, the first responsibility of the law should be to defend the life of the innocent where it is being actively threatened by someone. The assertions that Terri expressed a wish to die if she was in a situation like this are disputed, and even if they are true, does it excuse all that has happened?
Terri’s parents are trying to save their daughter’s life. To them their daughter is still alive and present, and I bet they tune out others’ generalizations and opinions about the value and quality of their daughter’s life (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v4/sub/MarketingPage?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2FArticleNews%2FTPStory%2FLAC%2F20050322%2FCOWENT22%2FTPComment&ord=1111527707990&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true)!
If you want to find out the other side of the story, you can read it here. The media is too lazy to bother with it, so the public has it all wrong. We want to believe in delusions: “Oh, the courts are good, and judges administer justice, and all family members always care deeply about their disabled loved ones, and they only have their best interest at heart, they only want to stop their suffering!” And this case – it’s supposed to be oh-so “complicated” and “heart-rending” – too complicated and heart-rending to bother investigating! And the media goes on and on like that as if we’re all living in fantasy land, and all the pro-eugenics ghosts become emboldened and come out of hiding.
More, including some other points of view
TheStar.com: Mar 21 – No quick decision in Schiavo case (http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1111405518230&call_pageid=968332188492&col=&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes)
…her parents insist she could recover with treatment.
Note that the Empire Journal seems to be exclusively devoted to the cause of Terri Schiavo’s parents. I don’t want to imply any links here are unbiased. Every source has biases.
Intelligent discussion of the issue from the point of view of a traditional Catholic. Readers disagreed here, and I disagree with some of what he said also. Too interesting a person for the mainstream.
Some Libertarian Views
“Within a few days from now, Terri Schiavo will be dead because the courts have ordered that she be starved to death. Anyone who tries to intervene by giving her even a sip of water is arrested and led off in handcuffs…”
“In the continuing criticism of President George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress, we forget that this issue has come to this point because the state courts in Florida have held themselves to be above the law.”
I don’t agree with the U.S. federal government getting involved in this case, but I question what happened in the Florida courts. I question why her husband Michael Schiavo was not removed as guardian. And I even question this alleged “Persistent Vegetative State”. I also am not convinced that a feeding tube is an extreme intervention. Depriving her of food and water and treatment for infections seems cruel. Do people know about the history of this case? The media doesn’t want to bother covering the other side of the story properly.
The Florida courts should have turned over the guardianship to her parents a long time ago, and any decisions should be made by her parents and they should be free to care for her and feed her normally.
I don’t agree with the politicization of these matters, but it isn’t just one side that’s doing it. Also, courts and judges should be held to account and so should the media. The pro-life movement is mixing with bad company by continuing to court the Republicans, but the pro-death movement is stronger than ever, and people are rightfully concerned. All of this is relevant to ordinary people, because we will run into this again and again.
In the past there might have been some chance of Terri Schiavo recovering, and maybe even now for all I know. Her life has value. We don’t know what’s going on in her mind for certain. Maybe others think they do, but I don’t. Sick people suffer and we try to heal them so that they recover. Treatments can be given to prevent suffering. Of course there are cases where it makes sense to allow people to die, and doctors and family members have to make these decisions. But there should be safeguards, otherwise many people will be terminating their family members only because they don’t want them to suffer (without concern for their wishes or for other considerations), or because they are depressed, or because it’s convenient, or financially beneficial.
People need to err on the side of life, in order to prevent injustice.
I think this kind of attitude that “I wouldn’t want to suffer like that” assumes too much about others, and it could lead to situations where people are too quick to pull the plug, only because they can’t stand dealing with their loved one dying or being disabled, or because they imagine being in that situation themselves and projecting their sensibilities onto that sick person.
Life involves suffering. There are other values besides avoiding suffering, and a person might need more time to deal with things before they die, or they might have to go through suffering before they recover. It should be up to them ultimately, but not without safeguards. We should be careful about applying our own feelings to others and the assumptions we make about others and about generalizing our ideas to other people.
To raise a different sort of situation, for example: any time a person wants to die, should we just go along with that or encourage it? Of course not! That’s not done! Not yet! In Canada, there is typically active intervention in preventing suicide and treating mental illness. There should be non-violent persuasion and intervention by loved ones and doctors and paramedics, and yes, the police too. When a person is suicidal with depression, do you want doctors or the government to automatically just go along with their request to die – or even worse to force it and not allow family intervention – or to go along with the permission of one family member called the “guardian”? I hope we never get to that situation in Canada or the U.S., but are we almost there yet?
Also, I should address the financial side of this. In Canada, families should be free to help pay for the care of their loved ones, so that the socialized medical system is not motivated to cut corners and let people die in order to save money.