Remember Andrea Yates? She is the Texas woman who drowned her five children in 2001 and then called the police. Almost a month later, a grand jury handed down two indictments for their deaths, both capital charges that could carry the death penalty if she were convicted–and convicted she was, on March 12, 2002. Despite her legal plea that she was not guilty by reason of insanity, she was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole for forty years. Yates was in the news again this month when her lawyers said she had been placed on suicide watch while in prison.
Women’s advocates and organizations were outraged about this case. People like the National Organization for Women (NOW) saw Yates’ postpartum depression as a reason to rally around her. The fact that she methodically murdered her five children, all seven years old or younger, was not as big an issue for NOW as the chance to trumpet its feminist views. NOW complained that mothers are treated differently than fathers when they murder their children, but it also acknowledged that men are eight times more likely to murder than women, so it does make sense that the media would focus on the unusual case of a mother drowning her own children.
Some of the comments published by NOW and other feminist groups were remarkably forgiving of Andrea Yates. She was a depressed, mentally ill woman, so she should not be held responsible for anything she did, right? Judging by some of what was said, you would think that the victim in this murder trial was Yates herself, and not her five dead children. I cannot help but think that liberal feminist views on abortion might make the deaths of five children seem less of a crime. After all, if one is morally justified in killing one’s children before they are born, how much easier is it to justify destroying them after birth?
Another case of a woman in peril is taking place in Florida. In 1990, at the age of 26, Terri Schiavo suffered a collapse and subsequent brain damage. Since that time she has been cared for in nursing homes or a hospice facility, and by means of a feeding tube, she gets the food and water she needs. According to her husband, Michael Schiavo, and his attorney, Terri is completely brain-dead, like a vegetable or a houseplant. But her family points out that she smiles, laughs and cries, and she even responds to their presence in her room. Her husband’s doctors say this is just a reflex–albeit one that only occurs when her family is present.
In 1993, Michael Schiavo received $300,000 from a medical malpractice lawsuit; Terri was awarded $1,000,000 from a combination of that suit and a separate malpractice suit. Terri’s money was placed into a medical trust fund to provide the care she needs, while Michael’s was awarded to him. Since that time, Michael has directed that his wife be merely sustained in a nursing home, rather than rehabilitated to assist in her recovery. This act runs contrary to the intent of the courts who awarded the money, but many things are suspicious in this case. Michael Schiavo has been engaged to Jodi Centonze for the last seven years, and together they have one daughter and a second child on the way. If Mr. Schiavo merely wanted out of this situation so he could be free to marry again, he need only divorce Terri. But there is a powerful reason why he has consistently refused this option: money. Since Terri has no will and Michael Schiavo is legally her next of kin, he stands to gain all the unspent lawsuit money awarded to Terri upon her death. A living Terri is all that stands between him and wealth. Many times Terri’s parents have asked that Michael divorce Terri and allow them to take full custody of her. He has steadfastly refused. I can only assume he is doing so to ensure he remains the primary beneficiary when she dies. This desire for money seems to have been the impetus for Mr. Schiavo’s constant attempts to end Terri’s life. Over the last several years, he has twice instructed her caretakers to withhold medication so she would die from contracted illnesses. These attempts were unsuccessful, but on October 15, 2003, Mr. Schiavo was able to have her feeding tube removed, condemning Terri to a lingering death by dehydration. Unless something is done very soon to save Terri Schiavo, she will most likely die in the coming week.
National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy has strongly come out in Terri’s support. “This attempt at [Terri Schiavo's] life is horrific! At no time should food and water be denied a woman simply because she is worth more dead than alive.” Kimberly Browne, vice president of the Florida chapter of NOW, has organized a candlelight vigil at Terri’s hospice. “We are here to demonstrate against these hateful actions. Our aim is to bring Terri’s plight to the nation’s attention. Only then can we save this defenseless woman,” Browne said. Three legal challenges have been put forward by the Florida chapter and national offices of NOW in an attempt to stop this slaying. And for weeks, NOW has organized rallies on the Florida Capitol Building steps.
All right, before I get sued for libel, I must confess the last paragraph was a complete fabrication on my part. In reality, NOW has been completely silent about the plight of Terri Schiavo. If you do a search for Andrea Yates at the NOW website, you will find six instances where her case was officially discussed. But do a search for Terri Schiavo on the same site, and you will not find a thing. Why has NOW kept silent about Terri? This is a clear case of an innocent woman being denied her life and rights, so you would expect NOW to be all over this case, right? Why, then, do we hear nothing but silence from them? I cannot help but believe that Terri Schiavo does not serve NOW’s liberal agenda. NOW claims it works for ending all violence against women–even when some guy says, “Hey, nice dress!” to a woman at work, they view this as sexual harassment and a form of violence against women–but they are mum when it comes to Terri’s impending death by dehydration. Is this act not violent enough for them?
The only positive thing I can say about the National Organization for Women is that they are consistent in their callous disregard for human life. It is quite obvious what kind of value they place on the lives of the unborn, so why should they show any more compassion about ending the life of Terri Schiavo?
Addendum: On the same day this article was published, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed into law a bill designed to save the life of Terri Schiavo. The husband’s lawyer has five days to file additional arguments, the state another five after that to respond, then this matter will go before a judge. It isn’t over yet.
Addendum: On Oct. 23, the American Civil Liberties Union decided it was time to jump into this fray. Since they stand for life and liberties of the small guy, they are backing Terri Schiavo, right? Hah! Even the AARP is looking at joining the ACLU to fight for the husband’s wish to kill his wife. What is more apple pie, baseball, and American than pulling the plug on the one you love?
“Our members tell us that [medical self-determination] is a very important issue to them,” AARP state Director Bentley Lipscomb said. “They’re telling us they are very disturbed to think they could sign a living will or do not resuscitate order and have it overridden by the Legislature.” Hello, Bentley! Have you been paying attention? Obviously not, since there is no living will or do-not-resuscitate order in play here.
Isn’t it interesting to see who stands for the right to kill innocents?