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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Judge Will Not Order Feeding Tube Reinserted

News comes this morning that the federal judge overseeing Terri Schiavo's misnamed "Right to Die" case will not order the feeding tube reinserted, citing that Terri's family in all likelihood cannot successfully prove that Terri's due process rights were being violated by having her feeding tube removed. As Kevin at Wizbang notes, this is more like a strategic error on the Schindler's part than anything else - he and I would agree that they would likely get better results to attack the original cause of having the feeding tube removed in the first place, the "clear and convincing" evidence that remains anything but "clear and convincing" (read the posts and links below to figure out why). Naturally, the case is in appeal, and hopefully they can change tacks to get a better result.

Coming as no big surprise, those champions of justice, the ACLU, are eagerly on the side of Michael Schiavo and his nutball family. Missing the point entirely (or, without ACLUe, as one t-shirt I've seen say), ACLU Florida director Howard Simon said:

"What this judge did is protect the freedom of people to make their own end-of-life decisions without the intrusion of politicians."

[rant] Frankly, that's a load of crap. There is no living will for Terri, so we don't know what she really wants. Michael admits as much on Larry King Live, in front of his own lawyer. Michael Schiavo can only use his own hearsay testimony, along with that of his brother, to say that's how she wanted things to be. Now, you might be saying : "Well, wait a second, isn't Michael's brother corroborating his testimony?" and I would say to that it is enormously easy for testimony from another family member to closely match up with their kin, either because they are in on something or they want to protect them. Most courts would not weigh that with nearly as much consideration than if, say, a third party from neither family was in the room when Terri allegedly says "I wouldn't want to be kept alive that way". Even still, she says this after an emotionally-charged television scene, something that thousands of us have said at one point in our lives to others, but never really mean it. It is absolutely flimsy to ride an entire case on that scenario, and yet Michael Schiavo did. I mean, for God's sake, the man said his wife was dead to him fifteen years ago! Do the deed and divorce her, if you want to move on. You look like a bottom-feeder for denying the one party that wants to do everything, and would go into bankruptcy if they had to, the one thing they want most: to take care of Terri. That settlement money won't keep your conscience warm at night, and it sure as hell won't save your soul in the end, either. Hell, you can probably even get the terms of the settlement changed so that you can divorce her and still receive the money in the end for your contribution (laughable as it is) to her care, and you can do it behind closed doors and with gag orders. None of us would be the wiser - we'd still loathe you anyway for what you've done.

What strikes me as absolutely despicable is that Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, a known euthanasia advocate, has the unmitigated gall to say that Terri's civil rights are being violated by keeping that feeding tube inside of her. How anyone can reconcile "an effort to prevent the starvation of an innocent living, breathing human being" to "violating their civil rights" needs a punch in the head. It violates anyone's civil rights to wilfully starve them to death. That cannot come from "clear and convincing evidence" in a sane world, and yet here it is. It is so absolutely ludicrous, it starts to become unbearable.

I would say that Rachel at Blue-Eyed Infidel doesn't mince (harsh) words about how a lot of people feel about this (including me).

What is being done to Terri is absolutely wrong, and we treat EVERYTHING else with infinitely more respect and care than most people ought to except her. It just enrages me that all this evidence, a veritable mountain the size of Mount Everest, still doesn't convince people and the court that killing a living, breathing human is, you know, WRONG. It would be another thing ENTIRELY if it could be proven that Terri was completely gone, but the evidence that contradicts this is so strong, it's astounding. If Terri was in agonizing pain (outside of neglect at the orders of her husband) and comatose, with no proveable chance at rehabilitation, it would be entirely different to just give her an injection and let her pass quietly and comfortably. This isn't the case - you are STARVING a LIVING PERSON. Grow some goddamn backbone and give her a chance at life at the hands of people who care, not from the one who says she's otherwise dead to him. [/rant]

OK, so I ended up ranting anyway. Call it pent up frustration, if you will, but you can tell this isn't a simple matter of flipping a switch - much as people want to pretend it is. We are a country of laws, to be sure, but we are a country of rights and of morals - and we have always taken the moral high ground in everything, because we can. It may be harder, but we do it anyway. We cannot ignore our morals and principles to let a woman starve to death because the man who wants nothing to do with her wants that albatross off of his neck. We have always wanted to do what is right for humanity - we cannot avoid that now by looking away or professing ignorance.

*UPDATE*

Bill Hennessy posts his own thoughts, essentially arguing that we wouldn't even think of doing this to mentally-disabled people, why are we doing this to Terri Schiavo? It's all about perspective, folks.
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