By a 2-1 margin, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to order reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, saying her parents “failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims.”
One can only hope that our Supreme Court justices — who routinely refuse to grant stays of execution for prisoners whose cases have likewise exhausted all other legal appeals — act as judiciously as the lower courts, and allow Terri Schiavo to die in peace, ending this ordeal for her and her family. A quick and decisive ruling would place an exclamation mark on the shameful efforts of Republican lawmakers to exploit this personal tragedy in order to curry political favor with conservative Christians.
But the Schiavo case is only one example of the Bush Administration’s crusade to impose the morality of a powerful constituency onto the majority of Americans. The Seattle P-I reports today on the ongoing legal battles of a young Navy wife from Everett, who had to sue the military to pay for an abortion of her anencephalic fetus. Two years later, the woman’s attorney is shocked at how aggressively the federal government continues to appeal the case, seeking to force repayment of the $3,000 cost of the procedure:
“I can’t understand the impetus behind the government pursuing this case.”
I can. This is a culture war, and like all wars, the aggressors are willing to sacrifice a few innocent bystanders… even a 19-year-old woman carrying a fetus without a brain.
The so-called “right to lifers” are so absolute in their moral certitude, that they cannot distinguish between a real human life and a brain-dead or brainless person with no consciousness whatsoever. To them, promising medical research on a clump of cells is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, were Nazis conducted vicious medical experiments on fully-formed and fully-conscious Jewish children.
One wonders if extraordinary measures were used to save the empty shell that Ronald Reagan’s body became after Alzheimer’s cruelly withered his brain, and how his family might have reacted if the courts or lawmakers had imposed them? These are the types of painful, personal decisions that families must make for their loved ones every day… and these decisions should remain personal, no matter what somebody else’s bible may say on the matter.
The same people who speak so loudly about the “defense of marriage” are the same people fighting to deny Michael Schiavo one if its most basic legal rights: the power to make medical decisions for an incapacitated spouse. Court after court has affirmed that Michael Schiavo has this right, and that his decision to remove the feeding tube was both medically proper and ethical.
To deny the Schiavo family the right to make its own medical decisions would not only be hypocritical, it would be a dangerous sign of a government increasingly willing and able to impose itself into our personal lives.
By an 11-2 decision, the full court upheld a decision by a three judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, to deny Terry Schiavo’s parents’ request to have her feeding tube re-inserted. Meanwhile, the Florida Senate once again rejected a bill, 21-18, that would have prohibited patients like Schiavo from being denied food and water.
Next stop, the US Supreme Court, which has already refused to hear the case on three separate occasions.
FYI: TJ over at Also Also has some nice analysis of the legal machinations behind the recent court rulings.