Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Right to Die Without CNN

Maybe the right wing has finally sailed off the edge.

You hear all the time that you really can't understand this or that until you've been through it, yet a stunning number of right wing self-proclamed "Christians" have declared that they know better than Michael Schiavo what should happen to his wife, Terri.

Remember ... these are the same people who want to protect the sanctity of marriage from gay people.

First, the case is driven heavily by (big shock) money. Read more here.

If you've never had the experience of having to execute the wishes of a loved one and withdraw treatment, food and water, then I envy you. It is an agonizing task even when the path is absolutely clear.

In our case, it was my father-in-law, who had made his views very, very clear. As with most of us, he said (and conveyed to us in legal documents) that if he were stricken with, for example, a massive stroke or strokes and had no hope of recovery or regaining awareness that he was alive, that we should discontinue treatment (he was diabetic) and all life-sustaining support. That means giving the order for no more food or water.

That's what happened (two strokes, one on each side of his brain) and that's what we did -- executed his wishes. What we might have wanted was irrelevant. My husband made a solemn oath to his father. He kept his word. It took a week for him to die. It felt like a month.

But we did all this as ordinary people do -- without CNN and FOX news running his deformed image as art for B-roll video. We did it with some discussion and discomfort among family members, but we explained how the process works, we explained that these were his wishes and not open for negotiation. Above all else, we explained that he was not only not suffering, he was not aware that he was alive. We had no right to hold his body, if not to say his very soul, hostage for our own comfort.

So, to the freaks who claim to be attempting to "save" Terri Schiavo ... shame on you. If you do this on a religious basis, you should account for yourselves to a God whom you claim to trust, but whose will you would stubbornly thwart through machines and artificial existance.

This case is one of flexing political might and everyone knows it. for a matinee, Bush flies back to Washington to sign emergency legislation. Don't they have a fax machine in Crawford? Is it not a law if it's signed out of the district?

This follows the main event -- Congress passing a piece of legislation under orders from Randall Terry (head of "Operation Rescue") that those who did not vote for the bill would pay dearly at election time. He and his supporters didn't work so hard for the last 15 years to control both houses to watch it all go down the drain now, he said.

That's pretty overt.

Thankfully, the courts have been remarkably swift, responsive and consistent. They have backed this man whose commitment is remarkable. Let's hope a peaceful end is not far away for this poor woman and that her blood relatives can figure out how to let this go.


Ron Hudson said...

Again, I read here the voice of reason. I watched a close friend die of AIDS this past summer, slowly dehydrated and starved to death by the hospice process because he was no longer able to function and "it was time; his body was shutting down". For days, he begged for water and all he was given was ice. When his struggle ended, we knew he was in a better place. I hope that Terri Schiavo finds her better place soon. I also hope that those who condemn Michael recall the verses of the Bible about judging others and how that seems to be God's domain, not ours.

melinama said...

I have kept my mouth shut during the horror of this media effusion. It seems so horrifying - that a woman would be hung out in public like this - that an entire nation would be playing the Terry Schiavo game - that religious politics are steamrolling us all. Thanks for this post.

jw said...

I have never faced this decision so my comments come easily. One of the things I heard from my mother, as I was growing up, is that the worst pain in the world is losing a child. She lost her husband, her brothers, her parents, but the worst, by far she said, was losing her child. THAT may be the dynamic we are losing sight of. I'm not minimizing the pain felt by any family member or friend. They are all devastated I'm sure. But apparently, and I can't speak from experience, and I hope I will never be able to, losing a child is the most devastating of all. I cannot criticize the parents for doing all they can to keep their hopes and dreams alive. Selfishly or not, they are entitled. The politicians involved, on the other hand, are acting in a fashion that is contrary to the morals they think they are upholding.

Jean Bolduc said...

"Selfishly or not, they are entitled," writes JW. I have to disagree. Where the parents have stepped well over the line is in their deperate desire to ignore their daughter's wishes in order to soothe their own pain. No one's entitled to that. Not my parents and certainly not the freakin' government.

Anonymous said...

Okay, then we're getting into what is or isn't abuse. Certainly I don't believe that parents have the right to abuse their children, just because they're the parents. One of the many problems here is that no one is sure WHAT her wishes were. Everyone, including he husband, THINKS they know.

Moral of the story? Get it in
writing. And even that is not a SURE thing.


jw said...

I think all I'm saying is that if I were in that situation, if it were MY child, I would probably do a lot of things, in the heat of the moment, that others wouldn't approve of. I would most likely move heaven and earth. And I wouldn't care what anybody thought. Is it right? I don't know. But it's real.