Back in 2003, I wrote about Terri Schiavo:
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.
Terri’s case has been in the news for years now, but the National Organization for Women, that champion for women’s rights, still remains quiet about her. If you haven’t already realized that NOW is all about liberal women, hopefully this was the last clue you needed. While her case has been front page news in the past and often falls out of the public eye, today she is back in the headlines and many bloggers are writing about her. You can read some of the comments by Michelle Malkin, Captain Ed, La Shawn Barber, and many, many others at Blogs for Terri. Terri Schiavo has returned to the news today, March 18, 2004, because her feeding tube has once again been removed by court order. Andrew McCarthy wrote up an interesting article on National Review Online comparing the treatment we give to terrorists and Terri Schiavo:
A few months back, I wrote an article for Commentary arguing that we ought to reconsider our anti-torture laws. The argument wasn’t novel. It echoed contentions that had been made with great persuasive force by Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz: that under circumstances of imminent harm to thousands of moral innocents (the so-called “ticking bomb” scenario), it would be appropriate to inflict, under court-supervision, intense but non-lethal pain in an effort to wring information from a morally culpable person — a terrorist known to be complicit in the plot.
As one might predict with such a third rail, my mail was copious and indignant. Opening the door by even a sliver for torture, I was admonished, was the most reprehensible of slippery slopes. No matter how well-intentioned was the idea, no matter the lives that might be saved, no matter how certain we might be about the guilt of the detainee, the very thought that such a thing might be legal would render us no better than the savages we were fighting.
Well, lo and behold, a court-ordered torture is set to begin in Florida on Friday at 1 P.M.
It will not produce a scintilla of socially useful information. It will not save a single innocent life. It is not narrowly targeted on a morally culpable person — the torture-victim is herself as innocent as she is defenseless. It is not, moreover, meant to be brief and non-lethal: The torture will take about two excruciating weeks, and its sole and only purpose is to kill the victim.
Why are the doctors willing to let Terri dehydrate and starve to death? Why is her husband Michael, who promised to love, honor and cherish his wife, so willing to see her die this way? Her parents have asked that Michael divorce Terri and allow them to assume custody and support over her. But Michael Schiavo has refused to divorce Terri. One might assume that he just loves her too much to divorce her, yet he has instead been busy with Jodi Centonze, whom he refers to as his fiancé, and Michael has already fathered two children with her. I think a pretty good case could be made here that Michael is no longer an interested party in Terri’s life, since he has already moved on, both emotionally and physically.
Michael showed up on “Nightline” on March 15th, 2004 and made some interesting comments: “It’s a constitutional right to say, ‘I don’t want medical treatment’ and the state can’t force you to have it.” That is true, Michael, but a feeding tube is not “medical treatment.” It is normal nursing care. He also answered a question near the last with “And to sit here and be called a murderer and an adulterer by people that don’t know me…” Captain Midnight to Clueless Michael! You are legally married to Terri, yet you have two children with Jodi Centonze. If that doesn’t make you an adulterer, I don’t know what would. And, no, I don’t have to know you to apply that label to you. As for “murderer,” well, since Terri is still alive, you are not a murderer. Yet. But you certainly want her dead and are doing everything you can to cause her death, so you cannot deny that your actions make you a willful partner to her murder by slow dehydration and starvation.
It has been claimed that Terri said she didn’t wish to be kept alive if she ever found herself in a vegetative state, but the only witness to those comments is the same man who seeks to end her life, and who is busy boinking another woman. I don’t think this secondhand comment can be given too much credence, but Judge George Greer is willing to give this hearsay sufficient weight to let Terri die a lingering death. Why it must be by dehydration isn’t really clear to me. If she must die, why not a quick pistol shot to the head, or some drugs? Why not a pillow held to her head? Could it be because all those methods would clearly be seen as murder? Those ways of ending Terri’s life are too harsh, but letting her starve or die of thirst is somehow more, what, humane?
Let’s look at this logically. If Terri is truly brain-dead, then she is no longer the person Michael married. He would be fully justified in divorcing her and getting on with his life. This would make it possible for Terri’s parents to step in and take over her care, as they have requested. On the other hand, if Terri is not brain-dead, then it is horrific to think of her suffering as she slowly dies, and Michael’s wish to condemn her to a lingering death is even worse.
Congress has issued subpoenas, calling both Terri and Michael to testify before them. This legal act should be sufficient to keep Terri alive, but Judge Greer has ignored it and ordered her feeding tube removed anyway. Michael’s attorney, George Felos, calls these subpoenas “nothing short of thuggery.” I’d call them the opposite, since a thug is interested in robbing and killing. These subpoenas were issued to keep people from robbing Terri of her life. “It was odious, it was shocking, it was disgusting and I think all Americans should be very alarmed about that,” Felos said, and continued with “Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert are not members of the Politburo in Stalinist Russia.” Felos should be glad of that, because if these slandered Congressmen were Politburo members in the old USSR, they could simply order him shot.
Terri Schiavo is alive today. If her parents have their way, she will continue to live. If her husband has his way, she will die a lingering death. Please tell me–which group is showing a greater love for Terri?
Addendum (3/21/2005): Congress passed a bill and President Bush signed it early this morning.
“When a person’s intentions regarding whether to receive lifesaving treatment are unclear, the responsibility of a compassionate nation is to affirm that person’s right to life,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. “In our deeds and public actions, we must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life.”
At this point, it will be interesting to see what Judge Greer does in response to this bill, as he has already ignored a Congressional subpoena.
You should also read James Lileks’ post today about Terri Schiavo.
Addendum (3/21/2005): I have received an email with some information about Michael Schiavo. It is extremely easy to say anything you want on the Internet, especially from a free email address, so I won’t pass on most of what Just Me wrote, but I will quote this one piece:
The point you make on the marriage issue is something we all agree with and can not understand why the Catholic church or the state does not annull [sic] this marriage for abandmonment [sic] of the husband and adultery. This is not a marriage.
But the key point here, which we feel is the most important, is this is only a matter of his word against her parent’s. There was NO LIVING WILL. He is the only one who SAYS she wanted it, but how are we to know this is true? Give me a break already. He should have absolutely no say in the matter of Terri, who has no idea he is living in her house with another woman and the the two children they made together while she lay vegitating. [sic]
Why Michael is not willing to divorce Terri is a critical question for me. If Terri is truly a vegetable, then that shell is no longer his wife. Since the parents are willing to resume care, logically he should sever his ties to her. If she is not a vegetable, then choosing to starve her, when her wishes have only been substantiated by his second-hand testimony, is barbaric. I do disagree with Just Me about Terri being in a vegetative state. There are videos of Terri acting and responding to her surroundings and family. Not what you’d get from a potato.
Addendum (3/21/2005): I have received a clarification from e-mailer Just Me, indicating that Terri’s so-called vegetative state was an inaccurate description, and that Terri is very much still aware of her surroundings.
Addendum (3/22/2005): I woke up to find that U.S. District Judge James Whittemore denied the request to reinsert Terri’s feeding tube. Judge Whittemore wrote:
This court concludes that Theresa Schiavo’s life and liberty interests were adequately protected by the extensive process provided in the state courts.
Terri’s problem is that she’s not a cop-killer like Mumia Abu-Jamal. Then she’d be championed by the Marxist Left. Or if she drowned her kids like Andrea Yates, she would have the National Organization for Women standing in her corner. If she had actually written a living will stating that she didn’t want to be kept alive if she ever needed to be feed via a tube, there would be no debate. But we only have the word of her adulterous husband. Yeah, he really loves Terri. *spit*
If Terri dies, it will be murder. Murder because it is the intentional killing of a living, breathing human being. And in my eyes, that will make Michael a murderer. I see no difference between the man who orders the killing, and the man who carries out the order. And Terri’s murder is exactly what Michael wants and has asked for.
Addendum (3/22/2005): Thomas Sowell wrote an excellent article today –”Cruel and unusual”
Every member of Terri Schiavo’s family wants her kept alive — except the one person who has a vested interest in her death, her husband. Her death will allow him to marry the woman he has been living with, and having children by, for years.
Legally, he is Terri’s guardian and that legal technicality is all that gives him the right to starve her to death. Courts cannot remove guardians without serious reasons. But neither should they refuse to remove guardians with a clear conflict of interest.
Addendum (3/22/2005): Unless the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals picks up this case, Terri will die. The next step above the 11th Circuit is the Supreme Court, and the likelihood that they would actually look at this issue is practically nil. As much as I would like to see the judicial process save Terri, I don’t see it happening with Justice Whittemore’s denial of the case. Hugh Hewitt points out that more care is given to insects like the Delhi Sands Flower-loving Fly than to Terri as a living human being. Hugh mentions that even the Munz’s Onion, a true vegetable, is cared for more by the government than Terri. I think a very telling point is the arrest of Lana Jacobs today for the horrible crime of taking water to Terri Schiavo.
Addendum (3/23/2005): The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals told Terri, “No soup for you!” And no other food or water, either. And this is for your good, Terri. Remember that, as you slowly waste away. And the best part is your “loving” husband, who is off boinking the next Mrs. Schiavo, can continue with his claim that this is a painless death for you.
This is just heart-rending. In a 2-1 decision, the 11th Circuit denied the appeal of Terri Schiavo’s parents to have her feeding tube reinstated so she can get the food and water she needs to stay alive.
As much as I like the editorial cartoonists, Cox & Forkum, I think they missed the boat with this cartoon. Congress and President Bush didn’t violate the separation of powers, as stated by Robert Tracinski. The Legislative and Executive branches told the Judicial branch to look at Terri Schiavo’s case with fresh eyes. Captain Ed explains how looking at the case de novo is what the law was about, and looking at the case de novo is precisely what these four judges have not done. They looked at the case as just a simple appeal, and three of the four said it was OK for Terri to starve to death at the wish of her adulterous husband. If this doesn’t point up the need for President Bush to be able to get good judges confirmed, what does?
If any of these Judges had called for Terri to have her feeding tube put back in while they do a complete examination of the evidence and testimonies, who would be harmed? Certainly not Terri. President Bush stated what should be our motivation in this situation, “In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.” But three judges have sided with death.
I see this as a direct result of the Roe v. Wade decision so many years ago. When it is OK to kill the unborn because they are inconvenient, then killing the already born when they are inconvenient is the next step. This exact thing is happening in “enlightened” Europe with the Groningen Protocols and the news that almost 1/3 of Dutch pediatricians have killed infants. What’s next? Taking our old and handicapped and staking them out in the Arizona desert without food or water so they could “drift off to a nice little sleep,” as Michael Schiavo says it will be? I challenge you to go 36 hours without food or water and tell me if you agree with Michael that “It is a very painless procedure.” If you can manage to go without during 36 hours, imagine doing so for 115 hours. That’s how long Terri has gone without food or water so far.
Michelle Malkin sums up the 11th Circuit’s ruling here and includes the money quote by Linda Chavez — “If a court can order Terri Schiavo to be slowly starved to death on the wishes of an estranged husband, who will be next?”
Addendum (3/23/2005): Terri is now at 126 hours without food and water, and yet another person has been arrested for the horrible crime of stabbing Terri Schiavo three times with a large butchers knife. No, I lie. What was Gabriel Keys’ horrible crime? A glass of water. Yep, he is another one of those nasty criminals like Lana Jacobs who yesterday tried to give Terri water. The Washington Post reports that 10 people have been arrested today for the crime of trying to give Terri water. I’m sure glad the Judiciary is there to protect our interests.
Speaking of the Judiciary, the 11th Circus Court of Appeals voted 10-2 for Terri to snuff it. Congress and the President asked them to review Terri’s case fresh, and the 11th Circuit as well as U.S. District Judge James Whittemore have given them the finger by not doing do. Good Richard’s Almanac points out that Judge Whittemore cited four factors why an injunction could be ordered : 1) good chance of succeeding, 2) great harm if no injunction, 3) the harm, if carried out, is greater than if the injunction happens, and 4) the injunction would not be bad for the general public. As he points out, three out of four ain’t bad. But for Judge Whittemore, the first option trumps the rest, and so he denied the request. (Good Richard’s Almanac isn’t pulling up for me right now, so I did that from memory.)
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida is continuing to find any avenue of aid for Terri, but the Florida Senate shot down another attempt to stop Terri’s death.
And to reiterate: this is not a “right to die” issue. This is a “right to starve” issue, and I find it telling to see who is yelling so loudly for her death.
Wretchard at The Belmont Club parses the tragedy of Terri Schiavo both based on law and on politics.
Much has been made about the fact that Schiavo’s life lacks quality, but this assertion is not a permission slip to end it. The pathway to death should not be inhumane just because more humane choices, such as physician-assisted suicide, are not legal. Because she breathes on her own and is not in apparent pain, there is no quick or rational way to end her life. Until there is, we should let her live.
It is generally accepted that a physician’s role in health care is to prolong life or relieve undue suffering. The only time a true medical debate emerges is when these two roles come into conflict. The Schiavo case is not such a time. It is difficult to argue for euthanasia because she does not appear to be suffering. Working to prolong her life simply means providing nutrition, which physicians usually do without endless debate.
And the second is a sworn affidavit by Carla Iyer, a registered nurse in Florida who tended Terri for a while.
7. Terri’s medical condition was systematically distorted and misrepresented. When I worked with her, she was alert and oriented. Terri spoke on a regular basis while in my presence, saying such things as “mommy,” and “help me.” “Help me” was, in fact, one of her most frequent utterances. I heard her say it hundreds of times. Terri would try to say the word “pain” when she was in discomfort, but it came out more like “pay.” She didn’t say the “n” sound very well. During her menses she would indicate her discomfort by saying “pay” and moving her arms toward her lower abdominal area. Other ways that she would indicate that she was in pain included pursing her lips, grimacing, thrashing in bed, curling her toes or moving her legs around. She would let you know when she had a bowel movement by flipping up the covers and pulling on her diaper.
These are not the acts of someone who is a vegetable. Number 11 is particularly chilling.
Addendum (3/24/2005): The Supreme Court has refused to hear the Schiavo case. This is the last judicial option for the family to stop Terri’s husband from succeeding in starving his wife. The Supreme Court has the Constitutional power to either review a case based on the prior lower court rulings, or to hear it new, de novo, as if it were the first court hearing the case. But they chose the third option — not deal with the icky case at all.
So Terri will die a lingering death from dehydration. At this point, hope for someone to be able to step in and stop her death is almost gone. Terri will be dead, and Michael will get his wish — a dead wife to open the way for a new wife, the same woman he’s had two children with already. Yeah, you can’t tell me Michael loves Terri and has her best interests at heart.
142 hours now. How much longer will Terri hang on? Or to quote the caring Michael, “Has she died yet?”
Some Links: Captain Ed does an excellent job taking Judge Greer to task for ignoring multiple testimonies. Deacon takes Juan Cole and Maureen Dowd to task for their comments about the legal circus surrounding Terri. And Deacon points out Hugh Hewitt’s article talking about the failure of the judges to look at Terri’s case de novo.
Addendum (3/24/2005): I wrote a new comment here about Terri’s situation focusing mainly on a logical breakdown of who is harmed and who benefits from her death. I’ll be continuing on in that article with any updates on this situation.