Thursday, March 24, 2005


The highly divisive Terri Schaivo case is much in the media right now, as her parents and other pro life people try to get legal suport for her life beforre she succumbs to starvation and / or dehydration. In the WSJ, Peggy Noonan asks a good question about this case:
I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. What is driving their engagement? Is it because they are compassionate, and their hearts bleed at the thought that Mrs. Schiavo suffers? But throughout this case no one has testified that she is in persistent pain, as those with terminal cancer are. If they care so much about her pain, why are they unconcerned at the suffering caused her by the denial of food and water? ... What does Terri Schiavo's life symbolize to them? What does the idea that she might continue to live suggest to them? Why does this prospect so unnerve them? Again, if you think Terri Schiavo is a precious human gift of God, your passion is explicable. The passion of the pull-the-tube people is not. I do not understand their certainty. I don't "know" that any degree of progress or healing is possible for Terri Schiavo; I only hope they are. We can't know, but we can "err on the side of life." How do the pro-death forces "know" there is no possibility of progress, healing, miracles? They seem to think they know. They seem to love the phrases they bandy about: "vegetative state," "brain dead," "liquefied cortex."
The entire column is worthy. Credit for the link to Happy Catholic. Also relevant is this link to the Catholic Encyclopedia, which contains the Church's 1980 statement on euthenasia. Tip: Sirius. Brandon (Sirius) also writes ably, I think, on the subject of the Congressional subpoena that was issued for Terri:
I do want to say something about the recent Congressional subpoena, about which I have strongly unambivalent feelings. Whatever one's views about the rationality or propriety of the move, Congress has, and should have, the authority to subpoena anyone and everyone relevant to its legislative work. Further, Congress itself is the one that determines whether something is relevant to its legislative work. I thus find reports of Judge Greer's ordering hospital staff to disregard the congressional subpoena rather disturbing, far more disturbing than the abuse of Congressional powers I have seen people claim the subpoenas to be (personally, I see no abuse). And the arguments I have seen in support of the judge's actions are utterly absurd. For instance, this comment:
Stetson University law professor Charles Rose said that if a congressional subpoena can be used to keep her alive, Congress would essentially have blanket power to overrule state courts.
Which is absurd; the only way this could happen is if Congress forced the person served to testify for the rest of their lives. What a congressional subpoena does is call a person before Congress in order to testify. An equally silly comment, from the same source:
"If you do that, why have a state at all?" Rose said. "Why not just have the federal government do everything? It's absolutely contrary to every principle of federalism."
Yes, that makes sense; Congress is going to usurp all state government functions purely in virtue of requiring people to testify before it. Oh, the menace. My inclination is to agree with those who say that Judge Greer should be charged with contempt of Congress; whatever the propriety of the subpoena, it is not his place to decide whether Congress is within its rights in issuing it. But part of this is due to the fact that I see no constitutional need for conflict of powers here: at most the testimony delays state action until after the hearing, nothing more. Worry about the bills, not the subpoenas.

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