Thursday, March 24, 2005

Alright then, diving in...

Like me, you're sick of everyone pontificating about the Terri Schiavo case, right? You think the government should stay out of it and leave the decision to her family and local authorities? Then you'd agree with two-thirds of Americans who believe it was inappropriate for Republicans to get involved for political gain, according to an ABC poll. Once again, Dubya and the Republicans prove themselves outside of the mainstream.

I ask, is it moral to keep a person alive in a wakeful but unconscious state for 15 years? Is it moral to keep a person artificially alive when the body is trying to shut itself down? Is it moral to play God with someone's life by saying one thing but doing another when you think you can score some political points?

Here's a post I found reprinted in subliminal punk.

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the "family", the congress and the church against this woman's husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo's right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism.

This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn't the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.

One of the things that we need to help America understand is that there is a big difference between the way the two parties perceive the role of government in its citizens personal lives. Democrats want the government to collect money from all its citizens in order to deliver services to the people. The Republicans want the government to collect money from working people in order to dictate individual citizen's personal decisions. You tell me which is the bigger intrusion into the average American's liberty?

Via Julia we find real life:

The Friday lunch crowd at Jimmy's Eastside Diner was starting to dwindle. Jerita Collins, a waitress everyone calls Shorty, was carrying several plates when she noticed the television behind the counter airing a Washington, D.C., news conference featuring House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

''It is now 1 o'clock on the East Coast, the time preordained by a Florida state judge to allow for denial of food and water to Terri Schiavo,'' the Texas Republican declared. ``That act of barbarism can be and must be prevented.''

Across the bottom of the screen CNN noted a judge temporarily stopped Terri Schiavo's feeding tube from being removed because Congress had issued subpoenas for the brain-damaged woman to appear in Washington.

As DeLay spoke, Shorty stared at the TV and shook her head. ''This is wrong,'' she said. ``This is incredibly wrong. How can they interfere like this?''

Shorty, 57, a waitress at the Biscayne Boulevard diner for 35 years, should know.

''Two years ago,'' she said, ``I had to make the same decision for my son. It was the hardest thing I ever did. You don't plan on your children dying before you do. You don't even want to think about it.

''But if you love your child,'' she continued, tears welling up in her eyes, ``sometimes you have to let them go.''

Shorty's son, Jerry, was 36 when he died in 2003 from pancreatic cancer. He wasn't married. He had one child who was a minor, so the decisions fell to her.

''Toward the end, he didn't want to be kept alive,'' she said. ``But I wanted him to live. I didn't want him to go. The hospital, they had to tie his hands down so that he couldn't pull his own tubes out.

'After a while, I realized he was ready. I told him how much I loved him and I didn't want him to continue to suffer because of me. He couldn't talk anymore, so he wrote me a note. It said, `Forgive me.' And I looked at it and I said, 'For what? For dying?' And he shook his head yes.''

He died a few days later, on Dec. 29, from a heart attack. By then, Shorty had signed directives for her son's care, including instructions not to resuscitate him if his heart stopped.

On the TV, another politician talked about saving Schiavo.

''These politicians,'' Shorty hissed, her hands trembling with emotion. ``They're just playing a game. It's not about her anymore, it's about them getting what they want. It's about them wanting to look good in front of the people who are pro-life. I'm against abortion, too, but I believe each person has their own right to decide. You know in your heart what is right for you and you have to live with any decision you make.''

Full original post in Hullabaloo.

"For one mom, the personal isn't political," The Miami Herald, 20 March 2005.

James Ridgeway, "Will Bush Face a Backlash in the Schiavo Case?" The Village Voice, 12 March 2005.


At 3/24/2005 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Jimmy Huck said...

Schroeder - Excellent post. You really do a great job of breaking down all the real nuts-and-bolts things republicans are doing that mitigate against life -- not to mention the hypocrisy of GOP pretensions to "keep the government off the back" of an individual's private affairs.

At 3/25/2005 08:28:00 PM, Anonymous pinkdragon said...


Kudos for an excellent post. And thank God for all those people out there who read liberal blogs--I agree that not many people have truly thought about what this case represents as a whole to our national government, much less to our humanity.


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