March 31, 2005

RIP, Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo

Terri Schindler-Schiavo is dead, killed by a judicial fiat done at her husband's request.

The posting notes:

After 14 days without food or water, Terri Schiavo died around 9:05 Thursday morning - shortly after her parents issued an emotional plea to be at her hospice bedside in her final moments of life.

Terri's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, denied the Schindler family's final request to be with Terri as she took her last breath.

Apparently, Michael let his lawyer-of-death, George Felos, be present at her death - but not Terri's parents and siblings. That is heartbreaking, just as so many aspects of this case have been.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Schindler family. May they find some peace and purpose after this traumatic ordeal. I would encourage you to read the entirety of their family's gracious and thoughtful public statement.

I think a recent Wall Street Journal editorial put the policy issues of this case in the proper perspective:

At its heart, the public uproar demonstrates the need for a national discussion on the care of the severely disabled and, inevitably, on the "right to die." These are intensely personal questions, best left to individual families in consultation with their medical and religious advisers. But to the extent that government gets involved, the proper venue for settling debates is state legislatures, where the will of the people, as expressed through laws enacted by their elected representatives, can be heard. It is not the courts, where judges can be tempted to impose their own values, especially in the absence of specific guidance from the law.

This is one reason we are not as exercised as some of our conservative friends by Congress's decision to intervene. The legislation that hastily passed both chambers was narrowly limited to Terri's case and essentially procedural; it does not trample on states' rights. A better way to think of it is that the people wanted to be heard on the merits of this specific case. If the outrage over Congress's supposed abandonment of federalist principles means that liberals have discovered the virtues of a restrained judiciary, we welcome them to the club.

Nor was Congress making a claim of substantive due process of the sort judges have used to overturn state laws on abortion or homosexuality. Rather, by vesting narrow authority in the federal courts, it asked, in effect, that the removal of Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube be thought of as a death sentence. A criminal on death row can exercise a writ of habeas corpus by which he asks the federal judiciary to review his case. Why not Terri?...

Even an act of the Florida state legislature could not change that outcome...Last fall the Florida Supreme Court declared Terri's Law unconstitutional. The legislative branch, the ruling said in effect, is subservient to the judicial branch -- something we've come to expect from that particular court.

But the biggest failing of our legal system is that it could not accommodate the most humane outcome -- to return Terri to the care of her parents and siblings, who are willing to provide for her. Judge Greer's ruling that Terri's husband is the sole guardian made such compromise impossible. But how can it be morally responsible to let a woman die when there are family members pleading to take on the burden of caring for her?

...Yet rather than merely assailing politicians, social conservatives could better devote their efforts to persuading society about the merits of a "culture of life."

Democratic Party politics will be affected too...Even within their own party, liberals will find it harder to make the argument that the "right to die" is part and parcel of the "right to privacy."

...If Terri Schiavo's ordeal, and that of her husband and parents, can help our society reach a better understanding of how to deal with these difficult issues, that will be a worthwhile legacy.

David Limbaugh has this to say on the case.

The editors at the National Review Online have also weighed in on the underlying battle going on in this case, including these comments:

There was an honest, forthright case for ending the life of Terri Schiavo. It was that her life no longer had any value, for herself or others, and that ending it — the quicker the better — would spare everyone misery. We disagree with that view, holding it wiser to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition on the sanctity of innocent life. But the people who made this case deserve some credit for straightforwardness.

But while the public may have agreed with the removal of Schiavo's feeding and hydration tube, apparently there are limits to the public's willingness to tolerate euthanasia — and apparently its defenders recognized these limits. So we saw euphemism after euphemism deployed to cloud the issues.

Perhaps chief among these was the fiction that we were "letting her die." On March 18, Schiavo was in no medical danger of death. She was profoundly brain-damaged (although just how profoundly remains unknown), but she was not in a coma or on a respirator. She was not being kept alive by artificial means, any more than small children are kept alive by artificial means when their parents feed them...She could easily have gone on in these conditions for many years. She was not close to dying. For death to arrive, she would have to be killed.

And for that to happen, the use of words like "starvation" and "dehydration" would have to be discouraged. Those words might, after all, have reminded us that what was done to Schiavo would be criminal if done to an animal and provoke cries of "torture" and "cruel and unusual punishment" if done to a convicted capital murderer. And "killed," of course, was totally verboten. Schiavo was being "removed from life support," not denied basic sustenance. The phrase "persistent vegetative state" had to be repeated constantly — never mind that basic tests were never performed to establish this diagnosis, and such diagnoses have a very high error rate — and treated as though it meant "brain death."

We were told that her "choice to die" was being "honored," although the evidence that she had, at age 26, given any considered thought to her own mortality and potential incapacity was thin and highly suspect — its lone source being a husband who incongruously proclaimed his solemn fidelity to this purported wish of Terri even as he started up a new family, denied Terri basic care, and insisted on denying her heartbroken parents their desire to care for their child.

The charade here was not performed to protect Terri Schiavo's dignity but to increase the public's comfort with the devaluation of life. So it was that Michael Schiavo's lawyer, the euthanasia enthusiast George Felos, sketched for the media (which was naturally not permitted to observe Terri's deteriorating condition) a rosy portrait of Terri's extremis: radiantly beautiful, soothed by soft music and the comfort of a stuffed animal...

Why not kill Mrs. Schiavo quickly and efficiently, by depriving her of air to breathe? In principle, that would have been no different from denying her the other basic necessities of life. Why not give her a lethal injection? The law would not have allowed those methods; but the reason nobody advocated them was that they would have been too obviously murder. So the court-ordered killing was carried out slowly, incrementally, over days and weeks, with soft music, stuffed animals, and euphonious slogans about choice and dignity and radiance. By the time it ended, no one really remembered how many days and hours it had gone on. The nation accepted it, national polls supported it, and we all moved on to other things.

Next time it will be easier. It always is. The tolerance of early-term abortion made it possible to tolerate partial-birth abortion, and to give advanced thinkers a hearing when they advocate outright infanticide. Letting the courts decide such life-and-death issues made it possible for us to let them decide others, made it seem somehow wrong for anyone to stand in their way. Now they are helping to snuff out the minimally conscious. Who's next?

May God have mercy on America as we conduct the needed public debate.

Thanks to The Anchoress, whose posting of this quote by Robert George brings the proper religious and philosophical perspectives to this case:

Let us mourn, but not be discouraged. Let us forgive those who have acted wrongly in our name, even as we beg forgiveness from the Author of Life for whatever failures and delinquencies on our own parts have contributed to the culture of death. We are all sinners, and have fallen short; and the wages of sin truly are death. Let us resolve that Terri's death shall not have been in vain. In her name, let reform and renewal be our undoubted mission. Let us now, even in the depths of sorrow, rededicate ourselves to our ancient creed, affirming that every human being, as a creature fashioned in the divine image, possesses a profound, inherent, and equal worth and dignity--a worth and dignity that it is the high duty of the officers and institutions of constitutional republican government to respect and defend.

I predict that the long-term impact of Terri's life on America will be profound.

You can read more on Terri's case here in these six previous postings (I, II, III, IV, V, VI).

RIP, Terri.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Via the best means we have available it was determined that this was what Ms. Schiavo wanted. May she finally rest in peace.

Posted by: Frank DiPippo at March 31, 2005 1:35 PM

To the poster who said "Via the best means we have available it was determined that this was what Ms. Schiavo wanted"... how can that be?? How can anyone DETERMINE what a person wants if they can't SPEAK?? I can't seem to recall her nodding her head in agreement, writing "do it" on a piece of paper, wiggling her finger or toe or blinking once for yes, twice for no, or any other method of acknowledgement that can be thought of. So sir, how is it that someone can DETERMINE this is what she wanted?

Here's something for folks to think about who might be thinking along the same lines... what if it were you? What if you were trapped inside an injured mind and body yet knew that a decision had been made FOR you that you would die of starbvation, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?

This is a sad, sad situation. Yes, there is a chance that terri was crying out inside "please let me go so my suffering can end",,, there's always a chance a PVS patient could be thinking this. In Terri's case though, she reacted positively in situations, I don't think she was asking to go, not yet at least.

God bless all...

Posted by: SEC at March 31, 2005 8:53 PM

this hole thing sickin me i feel so bad i cryed my self to sleep last night how can one man be so mean and hatefull to a family how can this pig say no to a mother and fother to be at thare dieing daughters bedside this is so low and mean i can only hope when it comes time for him to meet his maker that he goes to hell and burns!! the treatment terri got was wroung how can this man say he loves her when he denied her water and food i cant even begian to think of the pain she most have gone throwe my only hope is that she dident feel or know what was going on around her.i was so madd at the fact the this pig allowed his lawer at his dieing wifes bedside i wounder was his new girlfriend and her two kids at her bedside to ? i hope when micheal looks at himself in the moring he can live with this mean and cruil deed he has done to terri's family and to terri what ever happend to til dealth do us part i guess micheal most have forgottin he took them vowels too ! my prays go out to terri's familey my god let something good come out of this mess for them just remember every dog well have his day and someday micheal you will have to face god and when you do i only hope he can forgive you for what you have done to your wife and her familey!!!

Posted by: diane van rossum at March 31, 2005 10:52 PM

to terri's familey,
my heart goes out to you all we wacthed tv this moring and hard your daughter had passed, i was sadden by it but at the same time releaved it was over for her yes she was fare to young to die but god has called her home to be with him she is in a much better place where thare is no pain and sarrow she is now a angel and she is wacthing from her speical place above. may god be with you all,and your familey!!!

god bless you all
Diane Van Rossum and William Adcox

Posted by: diane van rossum at March 31, 2005 11:10 PM