How many more times will we have to look at the tragic face of Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged Florida mother who tragically fell into a coma in 1990. For years there has been a feud between Terri’s husband Michael, who claims that his wife verbally expressed her wishes never to have unusual measures taken to prolong her life and Terri’s parents, who are now poster children for the right to life movement.
Intervention from officials in the State of Florida has reversed the decision to remove Terri’s feeding tube twice since 2001, but now the Feds are getting involved. This week the feeding tube was removed for the third time. The U.S. House of Representatives responded by issuing a subpoena for the severely disabled woman in an attempt to delay the removal of the feeding tube. The US Supreme Court denied the appeal of the decision to remove the feeding tube. Even President Bush has weighed in saying: “where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life”. Over the years the Schiavo case has utilized 19 judges in six different courts.
The big problem in the Schiavo case is the fact that the State of Florida and officials in Washington, D.C. are undermining personal freedom and individual responsibility in this country. If Mr. Schiavo says that his wife expressed her desire not to want her life prolonged, that should be sufficient. This isn’t a call for her parents, the State of Florida, and especially the federal government to make. Even if Terri’s wishes had been expressed in writing, with the personalities involved in this case it is doubtful that that a court battle could have been avoided.
The erosion of personal freedom notwithstanding, it is unfortunate that this story has received so much attention. This case has been an embarrassment for the right to life movement, for our government and its legislators, and also for Mrs. Schiavo. Both sides of the right to life debate claim that Terri’s life and wishes are important, but in reality she’s become a political football. Certainly Terri would not have wanted to become such a long-term public spectacle.
Either we should leave the feeding tube out and allow her die humanely through starvation (where is Jack Kavorkian when you need him) or Mrs. Schiavo’s parents should shut up and purchase a lifetime annuity to pay for Terri’s care. As for me, I don’t want to hear about this story any more and I don’t want my tax dollars used either in the hospice or in the courts to continue this pathetic squabble.