Sunday, March 20, 2005
Schiavo "debate": Because I suffer from periodic bouts of self-destructive behavior, I'm watching the House "debate" on the Schiavo bill on the CSPAN. Let me just say that I'm jaw-droppingly unimpressed with many of our elected representatives. I've often referred to my own senator, Barbara Boxer, as the least-intelligent member of the Senate (challenged occasionally for the title by Washington's Patty Murray), but Boxer's a rocket scientist compared to some members of the House.
I'll fault some Republicans for not being particularly well-spoken or passionate, but several of the Democrats are downright loony. (Steny Hoyer is speaking now, and I'm glad to note that he is an exception, even though he is on the wrong side here.)
Several Democrats got up to complain that this special section of Congress was costing millions of dollars that could be better spent on Medicaid or any other pet program. Another complained about having to be "dragged out" of her place of worship to come back to D.C.
Another repeated complaint by those on the Democrat side of the aisle was that this legislation was crafted to only apply to Terri Schiavo. Lost amid the whining was the fact that the bill was crafted that way so that it could pass the Senate in time to save Schiavo's life. The fact that this bill is not broader, more high-minded, applicable to the nation as a whole somehow makes it fraudulent. Unfortunately for the Democrats, this sort of thing happens all the time -- yet not in the dramatic form we have today. Members of the public regularly press their legislators to insert language in a bill to right real and perceived injustices that affect few people.
But I thought about what form this debate would take in a parallel universe, one where the Democrats held majorities in both Houses and the White House. A parallel universe where it wasn't a brain-damaged woman who was being starved to death, but instead a pregnant woman who was being forced to carry a child to term under some bizarre court order (remember, this is an alternate universe). Would Democrats flinch at a special session to pass a law that would allow an abortion to take place?
I don't know if Terri Schiavo could get better if she had physical therapy and rehabilitation -- the fact of the matter is that it hasn't even been tried -- and that's the crime.
I encourage you to check out former U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy's piece on NRO about how federal law prohibits torture -- including taking away food and water.
After the feeding tube that sustains Terri Schiavo was removed on Friday afternoon, National Review's John Miller asked a question (on NRO's weblog, The Corner) which was penetrating in its trenchant simplicity: "If somebody put a pistol to [Terri] Schiavo's head and pulled the trigger — you know, to give the "dying process" a little nudge — would the shooter be guilty of murder under Florida law?" Well, given that we've had no small amount of propaganda from right-to-die activists about the purported humaneness of letting Terri wither and die, why doesn't someone just shoot her — or at least administer the procedure employed to execute in capital cases. It would, after all, be quicker and thus more humane, right?
It is not being done because its crude blatancy would too obviously spotlight that what's happening here is cold-blooded murder. Terri is not a person who is brain dead or a corpse being sustained by artificial means. She is alive and merely needs nutrition, like any child or incapacitated adult needs food and water. She will not be dead unless someone actually takes action to kill her. Yet, killing her efficiently, and with a comparative minimum of suffering, would interrupt the happy fiction the right-to-die people are selling: that the state is not really killing her, she's just slowly dying on her own. Of course, she is not dying on her own. Because she is incapacitated, someone has to be responsible for her; and because she is alive that someone has to do something affirmative to end her life.
Dying of thirst is a terrible way to go. If the courts want her dead -- which appears to be the case -- they should give her a lethal injection.