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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Alright, Kathy, here is the article you have been waiting for: Just when it seemed that every liberal commentator on the Terri Schiavo case was starting to sound like Barney Frank, the great Joan Didion published a long and remarkable article on the case in the quite far left New York Review of Books of June 9. Frank, of course, took the occasion of last week's Schiavo autopsy results as yet another opportunity to denounce Republicans as “this fanatical party willing to impose its own views on people.” For those of you still somehow unaware, “imposing their views” is a semiofficial Democratic meme or code phrase meaning “religious people who vote their moral views and disagree with us.” Didion, on the other hand, cut through all the rhetoric about imposing views and said the struggle to spare Schiavo’s life was “essentially a civil rights intervention.” This is a phrase of great clarity, particularly since Democrats have a long track record of protecting civil rights and Republicans don’t. Behind the grotesque media circus, the two parties were essentially switching roles. In the first round of public opinion—the polls—the GOP took a beating. But in the long run, the American people tend to rally behind civil rights, and the party that fights to uphold them is likely to prevail. On the “rational” or “secular” side of the dispute, Didion wrote, there was “very little acknowledgment that there could be large numbers of people, not all of whom could be categorized as ‘fundamentalists’ or ‘evangelicals,’ who were genuinely troubled by the ramifications of viewing a life as inadequate and so deciding to end it.” Amen. There was also little admission that this was a “merciful euthanasia” controversy posing as a “right-to-die” case. Many of us understood, as the autopsy has now shown, that Schiavo was severely damaged, but a national psychodrama built around the alleged need to end a life without clear consent is likely to induce anxieties in all but the most dedicated right-to-die adherents. Didion did not conclude that ending Schiavo’s life was a wrongful act, but she seemed to be leaning that way. She wrote: “What might have seemed a central argument in this case—the ethical argument, the argument about whether, when it comes to life and death, any of us can justifiably claim the ability or the right to judge the value of any other being’s life—remained largely unexpressed, mentioned, when at all, only to be dismissed.” That issue was slurred and muffled by the media and by shrewd, though completely misleading, right-to-die arguments that distracted us from the core issue of consent. George Felos, the attorney of Terri Schiavo’s husband, Michael, told Larry King, “Quality of life is one of those tricky things because it’s a very personal and individual decision. I don’t think any of us have the right to make a judgment about quality of life for another.” Here Felos piously got away with adopting a deadly argument against his own position by presenting it as somehow bolstering his case. This can happen only when the media are totally incurious or already committed to your side. Michael Schiavo made a somewhat similar eye-popping argument to King: “I think that every person in this country should be scared. The government is going to trample all over your private and personal matters. It’s outrageous that these people that we elect are not letting you have your civil liberties to choose what you want when you die.” Americans were indeed scared that they might one day be in Terri Schiavo’s predicament. But Michael was speaking as though Terri Schiavo’s wishes in the matter were clear and Republicans were determined to trample them anyway. Yet her wishes, as Didion says, were “essentially unconfirmable” and based on bits of hearsay reported by people whose interests were not obviously her own—Michael Schiavo and two of his relatives. One hearsay comment—“no tubes for me”—came while Terri Schiavo was watching television. “Imagine it,” Didion wrote. “You are in your early 20s. You are watching a movie, say on Lifetime, in which someone has a feeding tube. You pick up the empty chip bowl. ‘No tubes for me,’ you say as you get up to fill it. What are the chances you have given this even a passing thought?” According to studies cited last year in the Hastings Center Report, Didion reminds us, almost a third of written directives, after periods as short as two years, no longer reflect the wishes of those who made them. And here nothing was written down at all. The autopsy confirms the extraordinary damage to Schiavo and discredits those who tried to depict the husband as a wife-beater. But the autopsy has nothing to say about the core moral issue: Do people with profound disabilities no longer have a right to live? That issue is still on the table [even though most Americans want to forget it]. John Leo
posted by Jack Mercer @ 6/29/2005 08:32:00 AM  
  • At 6/29/2005 09:53:00 PM, Blogger Kathy Schrenk said…

    No one's ever going to know what Terri really said, wanted, felt, etc, and the two sides are never going to agree. But I think in a case like this you have to listen to the husband.

    The overall lesson is that people really need to think about what they want when it comes to this kind of situation and make it clear to loved ones.

  • At 7/05/2005 11:04:00 PM, Anonymous Melissa Celaya said…

    I believe you are mistaken. There are a few out there that know exactly what Terry said or didn't say. I wonder if her words, or her silence echoes in their heads when they wake up in the middle of the night.

    Before anyone chooses to believe the "husband", (I use the term loosely) Did you know that for women of Terry's age, (at the time of her 'accident') one of the most frequent causes of death-second only to auto accidents-is their "husbands" or boyfriends?

    (source: American Bar Association Document on Domestic Abuse)

  • At 7/06/2005 08:37:00 AM, Blogger pc93 said…

    Post the following to as many blogs asking them to feature it as a regular post.. also when contacting jeb via fax and e-mail include this, and also spread as far and wide as possible:

    Michael Schiavo's 30-70 Minute Gap Exploded Away Regarding 911 Call Seeking Assistance for Terri Schiavo

    Charts prove a much larger gap in which Michael Schiavo did not seek help and also prove his various testimonies are merely concocted stories made up while under oath,.

    Michael Schiavo asserts on Terri Schiavo's tombstone that she departed this earth on February 25, 1990 but failed to tell that to the medical malpractice jury when seeking and winning millions of dollars for her care. Charts explode away 30-70 minute gap mentioned by authorities regarding Terri's "collapse" and time Michael Schiavo waited in seeking help and add an additional 2 hour gap. In fact Michael's accounts proven to be no more than stories hiding his complicity in her collapse. See the charts:

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