Is Florida Run By Sadists?
by Allen Snyder
November 1, 2003
It’s not comforting to learn that the compassion in ‘compassionate conservatism’ is as dead in Jeb Bush’s Florida as it is in George Bush’s Washington. The recent action taken by Governor Bush and the Florida State legislature in the case of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged and comatose young woman, is reprehensible to the core. Only if ‘compassion’ means ‘not giving a hoot in hell about Terri Schiavo’ are they being really compassionate, since they appear to care about her even less than that.
The protests by praying and genuflecting believers, religious ‘moral experts’, and right-wing Christian organizations were designed explicitly to shame Gov. Bush and need-to-be-reelected members of the State legislature into action. Predictably, they caved and passed a knee-jerk piece of legislative nonsense requiring Ms. Schiavo’s doctors to reinsert a feeding tube that was legally removed six days earlier (she was to die in 7 and 10 days,) effectively turning her into a political tool.
This trumped-up law was meant to circumvent the courts which, based on solid legal precedent, would have denied any appeal and allowed Ms. Schiavo to die (By starvation! Yuck! Wouldn’t a lethal injection be more humane!?). It was also conveniently written to apply to Ms. Schiavo’s case alone. I guess the legal scumbags in Gov. Bush’s office learned much from the Supreme Embarrassment’s employment of the same bogus and constitutionally suspect strategy in Gore v. Bush.
A large part of the public, hopped up mostly on emotion, is OK with Bush’s decision to side with Ms. Schiavo’s family rather than her husband.
However, their sympathy is misplaced - not because they’re giving it to the family (who certainly deserve it), but because they’re not giving it to Ms. Schiavo.
Sadly, thanks to poor media coverage, the public is woefully ignorant of relevant facts. With CNN’s conflicting accounts of Ms. Schiavo’s condition, it’s no wonder. In the course of one day last week, their headline ticker referred to her first as being in a ‘persistent vegetative state’, then in a ‘coma’, and finally, in a ‘come-like’ state. Call me crazy, but these sound significantly different. As it turns out, they are, but nobody bothered to clear it up.
Since Ms. Schiavo is not brain-dead (she’s exhibiting behaviors that could be construed as intentional), it’s disingenuous to say she is in a PVS (persistent vegetative state), which refers to a very serious form of coma where the patient shows little to no response, but is still just this side of death (the Nancy Cruzan case from 1990 is a good example). Ms. Schiavo’s condition, however, appears more like Karen Ann Quinlan’s, the coma patient whose case ignited a public and legal furor over her respirator’s removal in the 70’s and 80’s (she had some rather gruesome involuntary responses).
Ms. Schiavo’s family lawyers have nevertheless pulled out all the stops to keep her alive. The loop of footage CNN’s Headline News constantly runs is transparently skewed toward the view that Ms. Schiavo is partially conscious, voluntarily responding to stimuli, can be physically rehabilitated, and even taught to eat on her own. No offense, guys, but I’d like to see what she’s doing the other 99.9% of her day.
If it were the least bit realistic, this familial prognosis could be taken seriously. But all the medicos involved are saying Ms. Schiavo’s condition is irreversible and beyond hope. Barring divine intervention or a healing, Benny Hinn-like slap on the head, Ms. Schiavo will stay comatose until the end.
In case their legal end-run wasn’t bad enough, an unsympathetic judge refused to grant an immediate injunction against the action, thereby giving doctors enough time to further desecrate Ms. Schiavo by first re-hydrating her, then reinserting her feeding tube. The Florida government’s willful politicization of Ms. Schiavo at the expense of her right to die, her privacy, her due process, and the respect of Florida judiciary decisions is shameful.
There is a reason that courts consistently uphold the surrogate wishes of spouses over other immediate family. And we don’t have to look any further than the reasons given by the parties involved to see why. While the husband argues that Ms. Schiavo would not have wanted to live in her condition, I have yet to see where the family has expressed anything but their own understandable desires not to see Ms. Schiavo die. The family’s reasoning seems selfish and thoroughly clouded by wishful thinking and deep denial, both of which were unjustly validated by the lege’s actions.
Eventually, a court will uphold Ms. Schiavo’s right to die and her feeding tube will again be removed. About ten days later, she’ll die of starvation and dehydration. Thankfully, she’ll never know the humiliation of having been a political martyr for a cause she didn’t believe in. She’ll only have suffered unnecessarily for it.
How’s that for compassion?
Allen Snyder is an instructor of Philosophy and Ethics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is copyright by Allen Snyder and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.