Saturday, March 19, 2005

Let Her Live

Or, as I was about to write on Friday, God Before GOP.

Congress heard many voices over the past several weeks. The pleas have reached a crescendo, and Peggy Noonan said what many of us have been thinking.

At the heart of the case at this point is a question: Is Terri Schiavo brain-dead? That is, is remedy, healing, physiologically impossible?

No. Oddly enough anyone who sees the film and tape of her can see that her brain tells her lungs to breathe, that she can open her eyes, that she seems to respond at times and to some degree to her family. She can laugh. (I heard it this morning on the news. It's a childlike chuckle.) . . . She looks like one of those coma cases that wind up in the news because the patient, for no clear reason, snaps to and returns to life . . . .

Again, life is mysterious. Medicine is full of happenings and events that leave brilliant doctors scratching their heads.

But a "Judge" claims she should starve to death.

"Judge" Greer is legally blind. How can he make an informed decision without seeing videotape of Terri Schiavo?

Sorry, I'm just not that Politically Correct to see how he can, and I say this in his defense. If he could see the tapes and still starve her to death, then, well, the man is simply blind in another more important sense, humanity.

And Yes, I've read paeans to "Judge" Greer. One simple question, if this "Judge" would allow acupuncture for someone with a living will, why does he not allow therapy for a woman who does not and shows much greater signs of sentience?

It appears his pride is at stake, and for that reason alone, he should recuse himself. He has decided not to, but the United States House of Representatives and Senate have stepped in to move this to another venue, the Federal courts.

It will be very interesting to see how our Federal courts reconcile Michael's actions with Terri's Civil Rights:

· Terri Schiavo may be the victim of ongoing negligence and injustice. She has been denied therapy and rehabilitation by her guardian since 1991. Florida’s guardianship laws REQUIRE that these necessary services be given to her.

· In 1992, Terri’s husband Michael won $1.7 million in negligence lawsuit under the pretext of funding her rehabilitation and care. He testified, “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.” Since that time, Terri has received no rehabilitation, all beneficial forms of stimulation (e.g. music) have been prohibited and basic health care, such as treatment for a life threatening urinary tract infection, has been purposefully withheld at Michael’s direction.

· Even though Terri’s husband has started a family of his own with another woman and their two children, he refuses to end his marriage to Terri or relinquish her care to her immediate family.

· Terri’s “collapse” has become controversial after a previously unavailable bone scan surfaced in 2002 which revealed multiple fractures consistent with a traumatic event. To date, no investigation has been conducted to determine the source of Terri’s injuries, but a radiologist gave a sworn statement that the date of those injuries would fall within the period of her mysterious collapse.

· Advancements in the understanding of brain activity and misdiagnosis and the recent recovery of a patient after 20 years in a persistent vegetative state, further calls into question any decision that would end the life of Terri Schiavo.

I pray Terri's case will be heard by Wise judges, not smart judges. Smart judges can write and decide almost anything. What we need at this time is Wisdom.

Again, Peggy Noonan said it best:

So Congress: don't kick it. Let her live. Hard cases make bad law, but let her live. Precedents can begin to cascade, special pleas can become a flood, but let her live. Because she's human, and you're human.

A final note to the Republican leadership in the House and Senate: You have to pull out all the stops. You have to run over your chairmen if they're being obstructionist for this niggling reason and that. Run over their egos, run past their fatigue. You have to win on this. If you don't, you can't imagine how much you're going to lose. And from people who have faith in you.

Bill Frist and Tom DeLay and Jim Sensenbrenner and Denny Hastert and all the rest would be better off risking looking ridiculous and flying down to Florida, standing outside Terri Schiavo's room and physically restraining the poor harassed staff who may be told soon to remove her feeding tube, than standing by in Washington, helpless and tied in legislative knots, and doing nothing.

Issue whatever subpoena, call whatever witnesses, pass whatever emergency bill, but don't let this woman die.

They've taken an important step. Will they take all the necessary legal steps to beat back the insidious and odious Culture of Death?

Pray for Wisdom and Courage for all in positions of leadership.

And pray for the hearts of your fellow countrymen.