Friday, March 18, 2005

Beware the black robe

Terri Schaivo's feeding tube was removed today. I've never honestly felt that this story would turn out well, but I would have loved (and still would love) to be wrong. For those who have not followed this very drawn out story, I'm including a short summary and a link to Francis Eternity Road Poretto's latest post in "Convergence of the death cults" series. I want to add only one thing, and that is that it ought to be known that the money Micheal Schaivo wants to gain from letting his wife die is money that was awarded to him him for her care. This case represents everything that is wrong with arguments for eutheasia.
For some years, Michael Schiavo has been living with another woman, who has borne him two children. He and Terri are spouses only in the eyes of the State. Yet he has refused to allow divorce proceedings that would transfer guardianship of Terri to her parents. Michael Schiavo also stands to benefit monetarily from Terri's death. The amount is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A philanthropist, sensing that this might be the true reason Michael wants Terri to die, has offered to buy her life for $1 million -- that is, to pay Michael Schiavo $1 million if he will only relinquish guardianship of his helpless wife. The offer was refused. The Florida courts that granted Michael Schiavo's petition to starve his wife to death made a finding of fact, based solely on Michael's representations that Terri would have asked to die in these circumstances. Several persons who knew Terri testified that this was not the case, but to no avail. Never before in the history of the United States has a man been sentenced to be slowly tortured to death. Let's be perfectly candid about what Michael Schiavo intends for his helpless wife: he wants her dead. His claim that she would want the same is hopelessly tainted by his pecuniary interest in her demise. He insists on killing her even though the sole legal way to get her into her coffin is to subject her to two weeks of excruciating torment. Were a condemned serial killer to be sentenced to the same ordeal, every civil-rights and humanist group in the country would be up in arms. Nay, it would arouse every such group in the world. Such groups cannot abide the death penalty even for men convicted of the most heinous crimes. The United States would be castigated in every organ known to Man for its callousness, its brutality, and its lack of respect for human life. Strangely, those groups have been quite silent about the plight of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. A few have even trumpeted the "right to die" mantra, as if they possessed telepathic time-travel powers that allow them to read Terri's desires retroactively from this point in time.
What I can't understand is why Mr. Shaivo's rights over Terri have never been denied. He is not acting as a loving spouse. He is in a plain conflict of interest. Terri's parents would take her back. I'm no expert on US law but it seems very odd to me that the law should lack this ability. I suspect that lack has more to do with the will to protect the innocent. These people are so determined to see Terri die a slow death that they have gone so far as to deny her final communion. Keep praying that a way can be found. The opposition has been very strong and may not be defeated just yet. Any of us could find ourselves in Terri's position and no one deserves that fate, not even the worst among us. The Tiger in Winter points me to a good Peggy Newman WSJ editorial on the Saivo case. I love this quote from Ronald Reagan:
Ronald Reagan used to say, in the early days of the abortion debate, when people would argue that the fetus may not really be a person, he'd say, "Well, if you come across a paper bag in the gutter and it seems something's in it and you don't know if it's alive, you don't kick it, do you?"

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