Terri Schiavo's case troubles me on many levels. Firstly, I think that the fate that a Florida judge has mandated for Terri amounts to state-sanctioned murder. Secondly, what the Congress has done, though compassionate (and I would have a difficult time not doing the same thing) amounts to what may become federal interference with state law. So, I want Terri to be saved, but I'd also like to preserve state's rights over the long term. The latter concern must be dealt with at another time because the first concerns a matter of life and death.
I'm not going to list all the reasons that Terri's life should be preserved, I'll leave that up to the sites run on Terri's behalf, such as Terrisfight or Blogs for Terri. I'm just going to post a letter that I sent to much of the Florida Senate, some of its House members, and some of the representatives from my own state. I do so in order to encourage people to send letters of their own to their representatives, and for those that disagree, to open up a dialogue about it. If a dialogue opens up, then maybe representatives can create a law that would protect indivduals from suffering the same fate in the future. If state's pass their own laws with regard to elder and disabled care that address this sort of situation, like a law that requires written evidence of a desire to die by starvation, then that might keep us from suffering the same fate and from future arguements over state's rights.
The letter I sent is as follows:
I implore you to thoughtfully consider any legislation that would help
Terri Schiavo and others with similar health conditions, namely the
severely retarded, disabled, and/or elderly. Terri and many others
have not given informed consent to death by starvation.
Terri, as a devout Catholic, may or may not have wanted
extraordinary measures to be used in order to prolong her life, but it's
doubtful that she would willingly consent to death by starvation. Her
family, those who know her best, have assured the justice system and public
of as much. Yet, a Florida state judge is taking the word of an adulter,
who has physically and emotionally harmed his wife, who has lied to the
court in order to receive money (i.e., he did not live up to his assurances
that he would provide his "wife" with the best physical therapy and tests
available), and who has not demonstrated a devotion to Terri and any of her
needs. Terri fights to live, or she would have died either as a result of
the first "incident" that incapacitated her, or her having consequently
being denied physical therapy, advanced treatments, and antibiotics
If Terri is permitted to
die by starvation, her murder will set an awful trend. Her
murder would set a precedent for permitting United States citizens to rid
themselves of the disabled in the name of "carrying out their
wishes." But, this would be nothing more than a ruse for getting rid of
those who demand a great deal from the rest of us in terms of physical
and emotional care.
If Terri were a
family pet, she would be treated more kindly, and her husband could be
prosecuted for the sort of neglect and deprivation that he and a judge have
advocated and finally ordered for Terri. Please help and care for Terri
where her husband and the justice system has not. Terri IS
Please honor her life and her desire to live by
giving a voice to her wishes and a right that is constitutionally
protected, the right to live.
That's the best I could muster. The subpoenas sent by Congress were the best that they could muster. And, I fear that nothing short of the Florida state judge reversing himself, that is, a miracle, will be enough to save Terri from a painful, cruel death.