Friday, March 18, 2005

Terri Schiavo 

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today described the proposed feeding tube removal from Terri Schiavo as an act of "barbarism."

He for some reason didn't feel the same way about subpoenas that have been issued from both the House and the Senate, ordering Terri Schiavo's appearance before congressional committee hearings. For my part, that is more barbaric than anything her husband is requesting.

What purpose is served by transporting a severely brain damaged woman, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for nearly 15 years, from Florida and into the halls of Congress, apparently to be displayed as a visual aid for those arguing that she needs to be protected, and that Republican senators are the ones best able to make medical decisions for her?

The underlying intention behind this maneuver is widely held to be an attempt to circumvent the current legal status of the case, which is that the feeding tube can be removed. Oh no, says Congress. She's been requested to appear before us, so removing that tube would be tampering with a federal witness.

How is this anything but an exploitation of this woman?

If it works this time, perhaps conservative legislators should consider this type of action on a wider scale. Require any woman considering an abortion to appear before Congress, and issue a second subpoena to the fetus. Schedules are pretty full, though, so the hearing won't likely be scheduled for at least 6 months. Oh well - can't interfere with a federal witness.

Think your gay neighbors are thinking of tying the knot? Convince your Representative to issue subpoenas, specifying the witness as "Bob Neighbor, a single man." Then no one better dare interfere with Bob Neighbor's current status.

Want to put a moratorium on the use of frozen embryos in any type of medical research? Subpoena every last one of 'em! They'll be able to provide as much testimony as Terri Schiavo can, so why not? Round 'em up, bring 'em in!

On a side note, I see from this detailed legal timeline of the case, Schiavo's parents in January requested a new trial on the grounds that the Pope's declaration that euthanasia is a sin has a legal bearing on the case. I wonder how "don't talk international law to me" Justices Scalia and Thomas would react to that one? It sure would give a boost to those who describe the Ten Commandments and the Judeo-Christian tradition as being the basis for our entire legal system. It does appear that shortly after that attempt, the parents switched to a more appropriate strategy of seeking time to see if new therapies would be able to reverse some of the brain damage.

These events can end no way but tragically, no matter what happens in the next few hours. I only hope that this woman is not subjected to the further loss of dignity that would result from being put on the road and then on display in the nation's capitol.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:43 PM