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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Updates on Schiavo Case

Apologies for the delay in posting more about this - research and work don't always go hand in hand in terms of sharing time, even when you work at a library. Anyhow, here is a few updates on the Schiavo case.

Congress is the center of intense focus in this case of Terri Schiavo, unintentionally drawing attention to the fact that Congress is getting involved in the Schiavo case, and sort of relegating the actual person they started this over to a lesser position in the public spotlight. Over at Jackson Junction there's a video with Tom DeLay ripping into Michael Schiavo, which is remarkably subdued in comparison to what I and others would do with a bullhorn on a rooftop.

The press coverage has been, in a word, exceptionally poor - as Ace points out. I find quotes like this (found in various newspaper repeats of AP reports) to be absolutely appalling:
Schiavo, 41, could linger one to two weeks, provided no one intercedes and gets the tube reinserted - something that has happened twice before.
Linger? What the hell is the author, Mitch Stacy, driving at? This is hardly a case where the smell of a dead mouse lingers in the wall for a week or so. This is a human being, someone who is still alive and doesn't deserve to starve! Show some respect and tact, man.

Then Michael has to play out the part of the grieving husband, despite shacking up with another woman and having two kids by her. But please, don't let anyone tell you he's not a good, God-fearing man. The following is from the same linked AP report:
"It felt like some peace was happening for Terri," Michael Schiavo told NBC's "Today" on Saturday. "And I felt like she was finally going to get what she wants, and be at peace and be with the Lord."
It felt like "peace was happening for Terri"? I'm sorry, but how can you prove that? You were asserting so damn much that the woman is nothing but a fixture in a hospice room, but now you're ascribing feelings to her? I wouldn't feel at all peaceful in the knowledge, even at a base subconscious level, that my spouse is fighting so hard to have me starve to death. This entire facade of Michael's is so nauseating, I can't stand it.

The Captain's Quarters has updates on the Supreme Court rejecting, without comment, a motion to hear the case on appeal. Taking this to the SCOTUS would have been the most direct means to getting Terri back on hydration and food. Unlike the headline says at Ace of Spades or elsewhere, I can see why the Supreme Court would not want to hear the case - they may fear they would be looked upon as interfering with a State matter (much like some are saying what Congress is doing with the subpoenas), and therefore don't want to look like meddlers. The cynic in me already says that, considering the meddling they do anyway in other matters, they may as well do some meddling that could bring about some good. This doesn't mean that the SCOTUS won't hear the case after the lower courts make some rulings on the subpoenas and/or the appeal to reinsert the feeding tube and they're petitioned again, it just means that they won't hear the case now. I, too, share in the frustration that they aren't hearing the case, but some things can't be helped.

Rightwing Nuthouse has a grim prediction for the future in dealing with the infirm and the (supposedly) incurable. The problem with Terri's case is that, should she ultimately die in the end, this becomes a springboard for more "right to die" or "right to euthanasia" cases, and it becomes progressively easier to just, well, let it happen. What makes this all the more difficult to swallow is how quickly the facts will be twisted, and hence history rewritten, when Right-To-Die groups and their ideological ilk try and turn the forced starvation of a woman into the acts of a martyr. In the efforts to be "merciful" to the indigent and the crippled, we start making everything a "special case" for putting someone down, and the line between "mercy" and "convenience" becomes blurred, indistinguishable. Sooner or later, a baby may not meet some sort of standard the parents have, or a relative's care has just become a little too inconvenient because of their family history of disease. It is the horrible, nasty way that the entire Eugenics movement considered acceptable back at the start of the 20th century, and was ultimately rejected then, as it should be now. One can only hope that the results of the Schiavo case turn out to be positive, so that this road cannot be traveled for another day.


Wizbang has word of the "Terri Schiavo Bill" that is pretty much set to pass in Congress. President Bush is returning to DC from Crawford to sign it, perhaps getting Terri's feeding tube reinserted as early as Monday. It'll have been almost 72 hours later, but it is definitely something. Although, this bill stands very little chance of surviving judicial review, seeing as it is directed at one person, setting us back to square one once it is overturned. I could very well be wrong - it may be written in such a way as to be bullet-proof, we'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, another post on Wizbang has some more context, with links to a news article on the history of "Right to die" cases and thoughts from the ever-acerbic pundit Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter essentially argues that, while Judge Greer's findings on Terri's wishes are largely immune from review, it does not mean that he's not mistaken:

Judge Greer's finding on Terri's wishes may be immune from legal review, but it's not immune from criticism. He's a finder of fact - he's not God. A few years ago, Judge Greer found that Helene Ball McGee did not have reasonable cause to believe domestic violence was imminent and denied her an order of protection. Two weeks later, Mrs. McGee was stabbed to death by her husband. So judges can make mistakes.
Mr. Aylward argues in his post on Wizbang that this case, at the very least, deserves a full review with a fresh set of judicial eyes, to see if that court's findings are the same as the Florida Circuit Court's. I would be willing to bet that they would not base the same decision on Michael Schiavo's hearsay-based testimony, and how this gradual "revelation" came to him after recalling a conversation he had had with his wife after watching a television program doesn't quite constitute "clear and convincing evidence". Particularly and especially after he has this epiphany after being awarded a settlement in a malpractice suit. I'm sorry, something about that smells, here. Give this case a fresh review, a trial de novo, and lets see how the cards really stack up.

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I may have to retract an earlier misconception I perpetuated in an earlier post - Judge Greer did not order the feeding tube removed, but instead gave Michael Schiavo permission to do so (which he wasted, naturally, no time in doing). Then again, considering I'm reading this AP story for the information, that too could be highly suspect. In the spirit of intellectual honesty (and because I'm not quite ready to believe everything the AP says now), I am going to leave the original posts up, unedited, until it is decided one way or another. At that point, I'll go back and make a note of that fact in those posts. You can count this paragraph as a sort of IOU one way or the other.