One of life's common grounds.
eaders and activists on the left are not all the same, as the effort to actually protect the civil rights of Terri
Schindler manifestly illustrates. (De)composing
the other side, those "The Courts Have Spoken—'Nuff Said" defenders, are such notables as Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade
, the pro-euthanasia group End-of-Life Choices (formerly Hemlock Society), ACLU
, New York Times
and, apparently, our president George Walker Bush as well as his brother Jeb, Florida's "
can't won't do nothin'
The humane beings willing to do whatever they can to protect Terri's rights include Alan Dershowitz, Tom Harkin, Joe Lieberman, Lanny Davis, and David Boies. Folks whom one would not normally accuse of being bible-thumping, arch-conservative Rove-puppets.
Now Jesse Jackson is on the scene actively trying to secure the support of key Florida state senators for passing a law that will preserve, protect and defend Terri's rights and the rights of others like her. In a matter of hours, Florida could very well have in place adequate safeguards against many of the abuses of the disabled, especially the mentally impaired, like the ones America has had the shameful misfortune of witnessing these past two weeks. Make no mistake, if this final effort succeeds at preserving Terri's rights, it will be entirely due to the leadership of one man: Jesse Jackson. For that, I join Darrell at Southern Conservative in saying,
- God bless you, Reverend Jackson. My dislike for your politics will forever be tempered by this brave, just act on your part.
Anyone just tuning in, here's a summary of the undisputed facts: Young wife collapses, becomes brain damaged (not brain dead). Husband sues medical folks, asking for tons of dough in order to rehabilitate her (no mention at all of her wish to die). Husband wins case, gets dough, subjects wife to highly experimental treatment (which of course fails), starts new family with another woman, effectively stops wife's treatments (including any that could help her to eat orally), and *doh!* suddenly remembers wife's wish to die! One court—one judge—says,
"How come you didn't bring this up 7 years ago?" "Good thing you remembered. Okay, out with her feeding tube!" Wife's parents appeal, 19 courts say, "Sorry, looks like that judge followed all the procedures so we can't won't re-examine any of the underlying facts of the case." Wife's feeding tube removed, court forbids all medical treament—including any attempt to feed or hydrate her orally.
Problem is, "Spoon-feeding is not medical treatment." It is certainly not, by any means, "heroic medical intervention." However, that same judge whose orders the 'Nuff Said folks are blindly upholding, says such simple, ordinary, non-medical feeding is not allowed. He won't let anyone even attempt it.
Not surprisingly, the lamestream media has imposed a Facts Brownout® on practically all such information, leaving the American public with only a dim view of who, what, when, where, how, and why it is that the judge got to divine—second-hand, no less—"Terri's wishes." At least one liberal, Joseph at the talking dog, understands this:
Most of the public would be appalled if they saw films of Terri Schiavo sitting up and interacting with her parents (albeit at an infantile. or perhaps advanced Alzheimers, level), because most people assume what they think they have been told: that Terri Schiavo is a vegetable in the Karen Ann Quinlan sense of unconscious and hooked up to machines that go beep (or worse, that the court order precludes attempts to feed her by spoon). None of this is true, of course. Most Americans would be appalled if they saw a severely retarded, conscious person as a candidate for euthenasia-- and apparently a rather bitter and spiteful one at that. Liberals (yes, you know who you are) to their nearly universal discredit (Jesse Jackson, btw, called the Terri Schiavo situation "nothing short of murder" and now Ralph Nader has demanded that feeding resume immediately) will either point out irrelevant or hotly disputed facts (such as "the MRI" [a single blurry Computer-Aided Tomography scan, actually] that purportedly shows a liquified brain) or just deny the actual facts (did you know that liberal darling Michael Schiavo euthenized Terri's cats as soon as she got sick?). [Emphases in original]
What I've seen from much of the "newly merged MSMosphere
" amounts to another great public disservice.
The more one examines how Terri's plight and its outcome, whichever it may be, have consequences affecting more than a single person's life or death; how the miracle of Sarah Scantlin who began speaking after spending 20 years in a coma-like state, or of Kate Adamson who recovered after being in a persistent vegetative state and who experienced suffering during her eight days without a feeding tube, shows that the medical arts are far from the competent source of best answers in all cases; how Florida's definition of "life support" (and Terri's understanding of it) was changed to include feeding tubes nine years after Terri's collapse—even the state's In re Browning decision (that medical privacy also involves feeding tubes) wasn't made until seven months after she became mentally impaired; how the only judge who has tried Terri's current case (without a jury) apparently dismissed critical testimony showing that Terri's actual wishes are to live; how that judge allowed an adulterous "husband" who's residing with another woman and producing illegitimate kids, to be the spousal guardian of a brain-damaged, voiceless woman; and how the judicial system is punishing Terri and forcing her to suffer, literally to death, because her state's laws are clearly inadequate when it comes to affording her rights and those of other similarly handicapped persons the equal protection all citizens deserve;—the greater the alarm one has that the injustices now harming Terri portend worse treatment under the law for all of us, as we are each, to one degree or another, susceptible to the same dangers which visited Terri and unfortunately left her in such an incapacitated, totally-dependent condition.
It's not just about Terri. The frustration of her full rights are felt by both liberal and conservative leaders. They know that what the courts are doing to Terri will affect everyone, because when the rights of one are diminished, all are.
As long as there are courts in this land which render futile, on technical, sophistic or face-saving grounds, every attempt to afford life the benefit of the doubt, our lives are all at risk. They can discard affidavits of licensed medical professionals who have first-hand knowledge about our actual medical treatment, such as Carla Sauer Iyer's below:
- I was employed at Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center in Largo, Florida from April 1995 to July 1996, while Terri Schiavo was a patient there....To the best of my recollection, rehabilitation had been ordered for Terri, but I never saw any being done or had any reason at all to believe that there was ever any rehab of Terri done being only a second or two long. When I told her humorous stories about my life or something I read in the paper, Terri would chuckle, sometimes more a giggle or laugh. She would move her whole body, upper and lower. Her legs would sometimes be off the bed, and need to be repositioned. I made numerous entries into the nursing notes in her chart, stating verbatim what she said and her various behaviors, but by my next on-duty shift, the notes would be deleted from her chart. Every time I made a positive entry about any responsiveness of Terri's, someone would remove it after my shift ended. Michael always demanded to see her chart as soon as he arrived, and would take it in her room with him. I documented Terri's rehab potential well, writing whole pages about Terri's responsiveness, but they would always be deleted by the next time I saw her chart. The reason I wrote so much was that everybody else seemed to be afraid to make positive entries for fear of their jobs, but I felt very strongly that a nurses job was to accurately record everything we see and hear that bears on a patients condition and their family. I upheld the Nurses Practice Act, and if it cost me my job, I was willing to accept that.
This, in turn, fosters an environment of bigotry which many disabled people perceive to be increasingly and harmfully affecting them, as expressed by Harvard student Joe Ford who has severe cerebral palsy (Penraker)
- Our country has learned that we cannot judge people on the basis of minority status, but for some reason we have not erased our prejudice against disability. One insidious form of this bias is to distinguish cognitively disabled persons from persons whose disabilities are "just" physical. Cognitively disabled people are shown a manifest lack of respect in daily life, as well. This has gotten so perturbing to me that when I fly, I try to wear my Harvard t-shirt so I can "pass" as a person without cognitive disability. (I have severe cerebral palsy, the result of being deprived of oxygen at birth. While some people with cerebral palsy do have cognitive disability, my articulation difference and atypical muscle tone are automatically associated with cognitive disability in the minds of some people.)
The result of this disrespect is the devaluation of lives of people like Terri Schiavo. In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—"would not want to live like this." In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might "get better"—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called "mental retardation") is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.
Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because he or she cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one's religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.
This lends merit to the argument
that what we are seeing is more likely, in effect, the attempted murder of a disabled person by our own court system, which Aaron at Free Will ably points out:
- Indeed, if we used the whim of one frustrated individual to disallow the care of everyone who lacks the ability to interact with the outside world normally, Rainman would've been a very short movie. Even Ralph Nader, the ultimate watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside), and Jesse Jackson, as leftoid as they get, agree that Terri should live, and I think most good-hearted people agree that Schiavo's death is, on it's surface, wrong. When the Pope, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and George W. Bush are all on the same page about an issue, it's reasonable to assume there's something to it. The judges have interpreted the law correctly, but the law itself is broken. We have laws in order to create justice and peace, not to create outrage, and that's what wrong with this picture.* * *Every single one of us would die if someone did to us what Michael Schiavo did to Terri. In the end, she will have died simply because her own husband refused her food and water, and made sure that no one else could help her, either. If anyone else did such a thing to their wife, no one would doubt for a moment that it's an act of murder.
Nor are the leaders of this movement to preserve, protect and defend Terri's rights the only ones frustrated as well as disgusted by what they are seeing
- Our politicians are useless, our courts are platforms for egomaniacs..our people are selfish and for the most part ill informed and... yes I will say it......ignorant.
The media would not know truth if it walked up and slapped them in the face. My dog would get more human kindness should she be ill then Ms. Schrivo. Starvation of a living, loving human being shows to the dept to which our society has sunk. I cannot cheerfully go about my day knowing this woman is starving.
I cannot cheerfully go about my day, either, while our civil rights are unnourished by a judicial branch, both state and federal, which demonstrates more concern for the procedural or technical formalities of the law rather than its real purpose and intent: that of both securing and elevating our fundamental, unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
This fight for justice for Terri is about all our civil rights as well as her own. It is a fight that we, for the sake of our free country and everyone who will be born or naturalized as citizens of it, are obligated to win.
Nat Hentoff, writing in yesterday's Villiage Voice
, also opposes this Judicial Murder:
- Months ago, in discussing this case with ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, and later reading ACLU statements, I saw no sign that this bastion of the Bill of Rights has ever examined the facts concerning the egregious conflicts of interest of her husband and guardian Michael Schiavo, who has been living with another woman for years, with whom he has two children, and has violated a long list of his legal responsibilities as her guardian, some of them directly preventing her chances for improvement. Judge Greer has ignored all of them.
In February, Florida's Department of Children and Families presented Judge Greer with a 34-page document listing charges of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of Terri by her husband, with a request for 60 days to fully investigate the charges. Judge Greer, soon to remove Terri's feeding tube for the third time, rejected the 60-day extension. (The media have ignored these charges, and much of what follows in this article.)
[Please read the whole article.]
(Slobokan's Site O' Schtuff
Another supporter of our fight for Terri's rights:William Jefferson Clinton
It's official. This is no longer about left or right. Just rights.
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