Friday, March 25, 2005

Last Post on Terri Schiavo (I Think)

We realize that we have posted nothing about Marquette University for the last week, and lots of Terri Schiavo. Since Marquette is on Easter Break and nothing much has been happening here, that’s fair enough. But it’s time to move on from this heart-wrenching case, if for no other reason than that Terri may well be dead by the time you read this.

But there are three tidbits to be considered before we leave this issue entirely.

First a fine, balanced column from Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. Jacoby first rejects the nasty dogmatism of some of the liberal editorialists:
Are the congressional leaders who wrote a law authorizing a federal court review of Terri Schiavo’s case disgraceful hypocrites meddling where they don’t belong? The Los Angeles Times thinks so: In an editorial, it damned the Republicans for their “constitutional coup d’etat” and “Stalinist . . . usurpation of power” and accused them of trying “to appease their radical right-wing constituents.” Would the editorial board have been so angry if, instead of a patient on life support, it were an inmate on Death Row whom lawmakers were so anxious to save?
Good point. Jacoby goes on to give his mixed reaction to the issue:
My instinct is to agree with President Bush that “in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.” I find it admirable, not awful, that congressmen and senators would go to such lengths to provide Terri Schiavo’s parents with another chance to plead for her life in court. Yet I recognize that the last thing our legal system needs is a new federal law every time there is a dispute about whether to end life support for a patient in a vegetative state.
Jacoby concludes that “this is one case that calls for less certainty, and more prayer.”

Next, from the Associated Press, via MSNBC.COM, a character portrait of Michael Schiavo:
Then, in the early morning of Feb. 25, 1990, Terri Schiavo collapsed, changing everything.

Initially, Michael Schiavo felt that his wife might benefit from therapy. He staged fund-raisers to pay for a flight to California for rehabilitation.

During a medical malpractice case in 1992, Schiavo testified that he was studying nursing at St. Petersburg College to better learn how to care for Terri.

“I want to bring my wife home,” he told the court.

When asked how he felt about being married to Terri in her current state, he said: “I feel wonderful. She’s my life, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. ... I believe in the vows that I took with my wife. Through sickness, in health, for richer or poorer.

“I married my wife because I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I’m going to do that.”

But by 1993, Schiavo was fighting with his in-laws, Bob and Mary Schindler, over his wife’s care and guardianship. In a deposition, the ruggedly handsome Schiavo was forced to admit that he had already been involved in lengthy relationships with two women since his wife’s collapse. One of those women, a nursing assistant at the home where Terri was being cared for, told the Schindlers’ attorneys that Schiavo would “whine all the time” about how Terri’s illness had ruined his life, and that he couldn’t wait to collect the malpractice settlement. She described Schiavo as obsessive and claimed he stalked her for more than a year after their breakup.
In other words, Schiavo was carrying on with other women while he was telling a court about his undying loyalty to Terri. Long after Terri had supposedly told him that she didn’t want to live in that condition, he was saying that “I want to spend the rest of my life with her.”

There is no doubt that fate dealt Michael Schiavo a bad hand. But when, hopefully, laws are changed – as they should be in the wake of this tragedy – it will become legal to consider the fact that a husband has been an adulterer and has a vested interest in his wife’s demise.

Finally, a fellow who is not one of our favorite people, but whose moral sense is just fine on this issue. From the “The Abrams Report” on MSNBC:
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, in this case, the vital signs of life are independent of the tubes. And so long as she has those vital signs of life—I’m very sensitive to her husband’s rights, sensitive to the parents’ passion. I’m even concerned about this invasion of the judiciary by the Congress. But somehow, the ethics of the matter transcend that. She is right now being starved and dehydrated to death. And that’s unethical.
Amen.

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