Monday, March 28, 2005

On the other hand, part two

Michael Schiavo should allow his wife's parents whatever comfort they can find in giving their daughter a Catholic funeral and let them bury her near their home:

Michael Schiavo, who had his wife’s feeding tube removed by court order ten days ago, has made arrangements for her to be cremated and her ashes interred in his family’s plot in Pennsylvania.

But Bob and Mary Schindler want their daughter to have a Roman Catholic funeral service and to be buried near their home in Clearwater, Florida.

The Schindlers have endured a pain that few of us can really understand, and having lost their struggle to keep their daughter alive, they deserve the compromise of being allowed to lay her to rest as they so choose.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slight recompense for a woman starved to death on the word of a husband who seems less than honest.,,1055-1545439,00.html,hentoff,62489,6.html

Again, I would like to reiterate how unseemly it is for this matter to be adjudicated in a Florida probate court (pick the venue, pick the outcome) as the tail end of a medical malpractice suit. The hefty tort settlement given to her husband, by the way, was predicated on on the notion that this unfortunate woman required longterm, expensive medical care to keep her alive.

Once he had received the financial settlement, his tender feelings for her changed. Dramatically. A conflict of interest that would be an important factor in a child custody, elder abuse or ADA case, but not in a probate hearing, which sees Terri Schiavo as dead and her body, breathing as it is, as property, the chattel at the whim of a straying, violent husband.

And, no, this judge will not award the parents the cadaver because under Florida law that honor goes to the spouse, even one so eerie as Michael Schiavo.

I would have preferred that a federal judge with a background of ADA litigation have heard this case, rather than a Florida probate judge, but what do I know? Only half of the Democrats in Congress agree with me on this position, along with Ralph Nader and, now, Jesse Jackson.

Maybe we're all just political opportunists.

In my evolving position on a public policy that favors life, rather than this spooky cult of death that's grown in the judiciary and in the base of my party, I would like to think that Jackson, Nader, Nat Hentoff and I are on to something.

Even I, a man who volunteered to escort women seeking legal abortions, am sickened, absolutely sickened, by abortion and concerned that its free and easy availability is shocking to the conscience.

Full disclosure: I escorted the women to the clinincs because I hate bullies, and picking on young, vulnerable, pregnant women seeking medical care is reprehensible. I recall, however, being screamed at by my friend at Planned Parenthood (who got me to do this volunteer work) when I questioned whether some aspects of it have corroded America's moral core.

I can't, for example, understand why minors can be prevented from buying alcohol but can abort a fetus without informing their parents of this decision. They must get parental permission to go on an f-ing field trip, but not to have budding life ripped out?

What is the ultimate message that's sent to teenagers about the value of human life?

At what point will choice (which I defend, regretting that defense because I abhor the practice) come to dominate all discussions of life?

Don't forget in your zeal to turn this case over to Florida's executioners that Roe v. Wade's guarantee of universal, legal abortions was a federal mandate from the judiciary.

How about returning such a difficult, family decision to the states, where legislatures and judges could craft tailored decisions for each abortion, much like we do for marriage, death penalty or child custody cases?

If we want to be politically consistent, how do we square the Rehnquist Court's decision on medically-assisted suicide (up to the states and their benches) with Roe? Or Schiavo?

And what do we make of a federal push to put Schiavo-type cases under the umbrella of the ADA, a civil rights act not dissimilar from the Voting Rights Act AND U.S. Supreme Court decisions that carved out federal protections for minorities (such as Brown v. Board of Education from the Warren Court)?

Call me a federalist, but I like the ADA and Brown v. Board of Education, and I would like to think that both have done far more good in this country than not.

To those of the religous right who sanction the death penalty, I give them the same answer: This public policy, dubiously effective and morally bankrupt, is a pox on our judiciary and our civil polity. It rots the heart of our people to continously execute large numbers of African-American men, often without full due process, simply to make suburban churchies most likely to never experience crime feel safer.

For a few bittersweet moments, I would refer you to the last statements uttered by condemned men in the Texas prison system:

Now, defend killing these people.

Medically assisted suicide, the Schiavo matter, the death penalty, abortion -- Bush is a horrible domestic leader and an incompetent when it comes to foreign policy. But he is dead on right about attacking this culture of death that's scabbed over our country.

And I wish him all the best in his effort to breathe a bit of life back into our republic.

3:49 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I don't agree with you on this case, nor with your alarmist rhetoric, but I do agree with some of your larger points, namely on abortion. (And the death penalty, but that probably goes without saying.) The activist base of the Democratic Party is wrong in its refusal to acknowledge that there are circumstances in which it is wrong for a woman to have an abortion, and they are wrong in treating abortion like a right to be celebrated rather than a tragedy to be avoided. I believe that some restrictions on abortion are reasonable and advisable.

As to whether these issues are best tackled at the state or federal level, well, I don't pretend to have the answer to that. I think that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, because it was unnecessarily broad and short-circuited a political process that was moving towards liberalizing abortion laws. I certainly see the pitfalls of allowing laws governing the right-to-die to vary from state to state. I wish there were easy answers. I wish I shared your certitude.

Oh, and by the way, before Jesse Jackson arrived in Florida, he was on Good Morning America, shilling for Michael Jackson. Not exactly someone I'd hold up as a paragon of principle these days.

8:33 AM


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