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Monday March 21, 2005

The problem with Terri Schiavo

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had a front page story today about the fight over Terri Shiavo. The Congress burned the midnight oil creating emergency legislation, and the president flew in from his vacation to sign the bill. Pro-life activists were encouraged, I'm sure, that politicians would go to such extraordinary heights to get involved in this case.

The outcome out of this drama will likely be that Terri will hang on for a while longer, and her political saviors will have a victory to gloat over. We'll be hearing a lot about how some politicians promoted a "culture of life," while others (evil ones!) wanted Terri dead. In other words, politics will go on as usual.

And, as usual, far away from television cameras, thousands of people will die daily from poverty, disease, genocide, war, hate crimes, and a host of causes that aren't urgent enough to bring the president back from his vacation. Families will be murdered in Darfur, children will be orphaned in Iraq, and the homeless will shiver in the cold steets of America.

None of these people will ever be as valued by our politicians as Terri Shiavo. And though their lives also hang in the balance, the "culture of life" won't bother to fight for them.

The problem here is not actually with Terri Shiavo. She's just another human being who deserves to be fed and clothed. The problem is the political agenda of those who fight so hard for Terri, yet let millions die without any emergency sessions in Congress. Why is Terri's life valued more than the collective worth of so many others? What makes fighting for her so attractive to our leaders?

And why is the "culture of life" so inconsistent in deciding whose life is worthy of urgent action?

Addendum: Bob has some relevent thoughts on the matter (via Bene Diction Blogs On). Also, Eschaton and Digby offer a strange twist that speaks to the hypocrisy that is the push to "save" Terri Shiavo (and one that the media won't mention).


I was in the midst of a long comment about this, but I think I'm going to blog it instead.

Joan on March 21, 2005 12:49 PM

I was wondering when this subject was going to appear in your blog.
People including Terri's parents want to "save" her, save her to live out a what I feel a meaningless existence. To lay in a bed not being able to eat, dress or speak. Are her parents really trying to save her life or is it just that they don't want to outlive their daughter??
I truly hope TPTB will let this poor woman, who has been in this state for more than 10 years, will let her die in peace and with the dignity that she deserves.
To anyone who will read this...update your wills, make a living will... If I am ever left in a vegetative state I do not want to live, I have made that perfectly clear to my husband, his family, my family and my friends. I have also stated that I want all my organs donated. Family needs to know your wishes, and make it clear to them. Maybe this won't happen to you .
God Bless you Terri, and God Speed.

LizU on March 21, 2005 12:57 PM

Joan, I look forward to reading it.

Liz, that's really good advice. As much as we want to avoid it, we need to make sure that our families know what to do should we find ourselves in Terri's situation. Living wills are so important!

Drina on March 21, 2005 01:09 PM

Somewhat off topic, but go to and click on "Harvey Wassermann: If Jesus Returns, Karl Rove Will Kill Him 3/22" I loved it.

From the Phantom Zone, Monster from the Id

Monster from the Id on March 21, 2005 08:02 PM

Thankfully the judge in the case has ruled to not reinsert the feeding tube.

LizU on March 22, 2005 10:56 AM

Why did it take Michael Schiavo seven years to remember his wife's wishes?

Did he wait until after he got his malpractice settlement -- because it was convenient?

And then after he got the money, did he perhaps want the tube pulled so he could get his hands on more money from her trust fund?

His timing is too convenient and truly points to a man who at the very least doesn't give a damn about Terri or he would have remembered and acted on her wishes seven years prior to requesting she be taken off life-support!!

Eyes for Lies on March 22, 2005 03:34 PM

Drina- good points.
It is also very interesting W's take on the whole situation especially after he signed a bill in Texas that gave spouses the final say, see from Yahoo! News
Its also interesting that her husband is made out to be the bad guy in all of this. I don't know him, so of course I don't know his motives, but wouldn't it have been easier to just give up control? He even said he would donate the money he would get from her death to charity.
Regardless, its not an issue for Congress to decide. If the U.S. Congress ever stepped into the decision making process between my parents and my future wife, I'd be stark raving mad (of course, I would not know what was going on, but the thought makes me sick). What happened to individual liberty? I guess when it comes to the affairs individual American citizens, our government sees promoting the "culture of life" more important than liberty. However, if you are poor, fighting in a war, wrongly convicted of a crime, or mentally ill, neither of those things apply to you.

Jake on March 22, 2005 04:53 PM

Eyes, it was my understanding that Terri's husband and parents spent the first several years after her heart attack seeking aggressive treatments to improve her condition. Mr. Shiavo's decision to remove the feeding tubes came after finding that Terri had experienced too much permanent brain damage. Of course, I know neither the Shiavo's nor the Schindlers, so I couldn't say for sure.

Jake, Bush's bill also gave hospitals the right to pull the plug against the families' wishes. Earlier this month an infant was taken off of life support against the mother's wishes, all thanks to the Texas law that Bush signed as givernor. Some food for thought.

Drina on March 22, 2005 08:18 PM