Tag Archives: Schiavo

A Better Place

Schiavo Finale,” by TM Lutas, Flit(tm), 17 June 2005, http://www.snappingturtle.net/jmc/tmblog/archives/005443.html.

TM Lutas on the resolution of the case
Schiavo Finale

I owe myself (and my readers) an honest bit of closure on Teri Schiavo. I was wrong, and the autopsy results (pdf) seems to have closed the book, on the level of damage Teri Schiavo had. I still can’t understand Michael Schiavo and why he chose to act the way he acted. Seeking the additional tests the parents sought prior to letting go would have cost less, salvaged his reputation in an awful lot of people’s eyes and perhaps saved us all from a national circus that should never have happened. His stand against testing and willingness to spend money on lawyers but not on medical tests was the strongest bit of evidence on the parents’ side.

At this point, I hope that she is in a better place and at peace. I hope that the family will look to their own souls as they pray for hers.

Well said.

Derbyshire on Schiavo

RE: Schiavo,” by John Derbyshire, The Corner, 15 June 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_06_12_corner-archive.asp#066242.

Great post by John Derbyshire in reaction to the latest Schiavo fuss. Emphasis mine

Some comments on that e-mail that seemed right to you, Kathryn:

Regardless of the severity of brain damage, it seems to me the moral principle still abides...”

Regardless? Regardless? So all those things we heard about Mrs. Schiavo’s condition not really being as bad as the husband & the doctors said, was just cynical propaganda? In fact, however bad her condition actually was, the right-to-life side would have held the same position? Then wasn’t it dishonest of them to raise the issue of Mrs. Schiavo’s actual neurological status? Even if she had had no functioning cerebral cortex at all (which seems, in fact, to have been pretty nearly the case) the right-to-lifers wouldn’t have budged — “regardless”? Which right-to-lifers — names, please — made this clear at the time? It sure wasn’t clear to me.

“1. No human life should be contingent as to whether or not another person gives it credibility or not.””

So if anyone, in any condition, has a metabolism that can be kept functioning somehow, that ought to be done, regardless (!) of what any person — spouse, parent, eminent neurosurgeon, judge — thinks? Start building some real big warehouses — you’re going to need them.

“2. If a family member wants to terminate a human life where the human in question is not able to speak for him or herself, and another family member wants to sustain that life, defer to the family member that wants to keep the human in question alive.””

This is not currently the law in the state of Florida. If the people of Florida, in their collective wisdom, would like it to be the law, get lobbying. It seems like a fair principle to me… provided you can iron out a definition of the term “family member” that will not produce results just as rancorous as the Schiavo case (which I doubt — see next point).

And what if ALL family members wish to terminate a Schiavo-type life? Should that life then be terminated, even in violation of our reader’s point (1)?

“3. A fortiori should this be the case where the family member wanting to keep the human in question alive is willing to care for that human in question. (in this case, the parents).””

What if the parents are both 90 years old? Prisoners in the state penitentiary? Only doubtfully of sound mind? Stand to gain financially from their caring? Etc., etc.

“4. It remains true, no matter how many different circumstances one raises, the only direct cause of Schiavo’s death was government action, i.e., a court order.””

At least two of the governments (if you mean, executive administrations) involved — the Florida govt. and the Feds — were trying every way they could to find some way around the laws — laws written and approved through elected representatives, according to state and federal constitutions. The laws won. May they ever do so. And may we ever remain free to change the laws when they no longer satisfy we, the people.

Schiavo Case Leads Conservatives to Support Euthanasia

Re: Schiavo,” by John Derbyshire, The Corner, 15 June 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_06_12_corner-archive.asp#066258.

More Derb

At the Atlanta bash last month, an audience member asked the panel whether the Schiavo case had caused any of us to change our minds about the underlying issues.

I piped up & said yes, the case had changed my mind in one respect. It had made me realise, a thing I never realised before, that I do favor euthanasia.

Ramesh asked me at some point why, if I were willing to see Mrs Schiavo have her feeding withdrawn so that she dehydrated to death over several days, I wasn’t willing to just have her given a lethal injection. I couldn’t think of any satisfactory answer to this, and haven’t been able to since; so in all honesty, I am bound to say I favor the lethal injection, in at least some cases.

Good point.

This is why federalism is important. So when one state legalizes something, an uninformed majority doesn’t snuff it out.

The Privacy of Marriage

Case to clear up consent to search debate,” by Hope Yen, Associated Press, 19 April 2005, http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/local/11428805.htm.

That the guy is crummy and the gal is a flip-flopper enabler doesn’t matter. That the substantive crime — drug possession — shouldn’t be a crime doesn’t matter. The rights of marriage, the rights of spouses, and the rights of police matter.

Scott Randolph didn’t want police to search his home after officers showed up to answer his wife’s domestic disturbance call. Mrs. Randolph had no such reservations.

Janet Randolph not only let them in – but led officers to evidence later used to charge Scott Randolph with drug possession.

The Supreme Court said Monday it will use the case to clarify when police can search homes. The high court previously has said searches based on a cohabitant’s consent is OK, but it’s not clear whether that applies when another resident is present and objects.

Officers asked to search the couple’s home, but Scott Randolph objected. Janet Randolph, however, consented and led police to the couple’s bedroom where officers saw a straw with white powder.

It’s boils down to using laws to extend implicit horizontal controls. On one hand, the state believes that if searches requires non-objection from both partners, laws will be weakened. People will realize they can be broken more easily, and strong implicit controls will shift to be weaker and more explicit. On the other, marriage should give special rights. In the words of court opinions

When possible, Georgia courts strive to promote the sanctity of marriage and to avoid circumstances that create adversity between spouses,” the appeals court stated. “Allowing a wife’s consent to search to override her husband’s previous assertion of his right to privacy threatens domestic tranquility.” In their Supreme Court filing, Georgia prosecutors said the ruling “focuses arbitrarily on the rights of the objecting occupant, to the detriment of the consenting occupant who was trying to report a crime and who had just as much access and control over the home as her husband.”

Like in the case, the basic question is how important is marriage? Is it just a contract that includes co-occupancy or something more?

It should be something more.

Juan Cole’s Radical Centricism on Terri Schiavo

A Tragic Death and other Tragic Deaths,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, 1 April 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/04/tragic-death-and-other-tragic-deaths-i.html.

I blogged Cole’s view of nation-building earlier today from the same post. But Cole is an original thinker and a great writer. I’ve pulled out that post’s comments on the case.

The Radical Center is that state of the far-Left or the far-Right where Left/Right differences fade away. Positions are so divorced from the political census that it is impossible to locate them on a conventional political access. Radical Centrist ideas are not necessarily wrong, but they are unusual.

Without comment, Dr. Cole’s Radical Centrist view on the Schiavo case:

What is interesting about the analogy, however, is that it seems to turn on its head the central underlying values of the anti-abortion lobby.

Anti-abortion activism is essentially patriarchal. It insists that the woman’s egg, once fertilized, is immediately a person and that the woman loses control over her body by virtue of being impregnated by her husband’s sperm. It is men who dictate to the woman that she must carry the fertilized egg to term, must be a mother once impregnated by a man. For extreme anti-abortionists, even a woman who has been raped or is in danger of losing her life if she tries to give birth must be forced to bear the child. A rapist can make a woman be a mother whether she likes it or not, because his maleness gives him prerogatives not withdrawn by his mere criminality.

The Schiavo case, in contrast, appears on the surface to be anti-patriarchal. The activists in this case attempted to deprive Ms. Schiavo’s husband of his status as her legal guardian and of his ability to decide, with the physicians, not to make heroic efforts to keep her alive in a vegetative state. The activists sided with his mother-in-law, thus appearing to support matriarchy over patriarchy. Why Tom DeLay thought that would be a way of beating up on the Democratic Party is a great mystery. But an even greater mystery is why his conscience would let him play politics with an issue that had touched him personally, when he let his own brain-damaged father die.

It turns out that anti-abortionism is not about life at all. It is about social control. It helps establish a hierarchical society in which men are at the pinnacle and women kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Likewise, the Schiavo case was in part about the religious Right dictating to Michael Schiavo how he must lead his private life.

And that is also how the Schiavo case makes sense in the end, because the religious Right feminized Michael Schiavo, made him into the pregnant woman seeking an “abortion,” and wished to therefore deprive him of choice in the matter. If hierarchy is gendered, then the persons over which control is sought are always in some sense imagined as powerless women.

It is about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life.

Right Bolsheviks and Terri Schiavo

Theocracy in America,” by Collounsbury, Lounsbury on MENA, 29 March 2005, http://www.livejournal.com/users/collounsbury/304891.html.

Are “defenders” or Republican Lenninists? Col thinks so:

However, returning to the subject of Theocracy in America and the “God Botherers” – I confess one of my favorite memories of my father, otherwise … well a model for my personality, was his reducing some Mormon missionaries to tears, quite inspirational that – I find myself appalled in a real sense by this case. More in the sense in which these so called “Conservatives” in the American government lost their hypocritical attachment to local rights, family and whatnot to use the power of the State to intervene and even try to override the courts. These are the policies of Right Bolsheviks, not classic liberals by either instinct or nature. They are the actions of theocrats (in the wide sense the very same people often use in regards to the Islamists (who are not so far away from them in their thinking)), with this talk of “God’s Law” and the like. To take Central Government action to rip a case from its proper context and place it into another sphere, into the Federal court system in this case, is an abuse of power worthy of any theocracy.

The “theocrat” charge is exaggerated, but the rest isn’t

  1. The Schiavo Actists are not Conservatives. They are attempting to break family law, break the courts, and break local control.
  2. The Schiavo Activists are attacking marriage. The entire argument rests on the inability of Schiavo’s lawful husband to determine her medical treatment. If marriage is so weak, why would these activists bother defending it against homosexualists?
  3. Allowing for hyperbole. the Schiavo Activsts are like Bolsheviks. Some popular pundits are alreading justifying extreme means with the ends. Ann Coulter adocated executive nullification (the Andrew Jakcon Option), for goodness sake!

The Schiavo case has a wider context, and I will blog that once it is over. But the extremism of my friends on the right is still alarming.

Elian Gonzales and Terri Schiavo

Selective Restraint,” by John Fund, Opinion Journal, 28 March 2005, http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110006480 (from Drudge Report).

Amid the sloppy arguments and emotional appeals of the Terri Schiavo case, John Fund has wise words.

The sad case of Terri Schiavo has raised passions not seen since five years ago. Then another bitterly divided family argued in Florida courts over someone who couldn’t speak on his own behalf: Elian Gonzalez.

In both cases, those who were unhappy with the courts’ decisions strained to assert the federal government’s power to produce a different outcome. The difference is that in Mrs. Schiavo’s case, Congress backed off after passing a bill that merely asked a federal court to hear the case from scratch, something that U.S. District Judge James Whittemore declined to do. By contrast, those who wanted the federal government to intervene in Elian Gonzalez’s case went all the way, supporting a predawn armed federal raid on the morning before Easter to seize the 6-year-old boy despite a federal appeals court’s refusal to order his surrender.

Both cases were marked with hypocrisy and political posturing galore. Both times some conservative Republicans talked about issuing subpoenas to compel the person at the center of the case to appear before Congress; they swiftly backed down when public opinion failed to support their stunt. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, argued that by opposing Elian’s return to his father in communist Cuba, conservatives were abandoning the principle that “the state should not supersede the parents’ wishes.” In the case of Terri Schiavo, many conservatives who normally support spousal rights decided that Michael Schiavo’s decision to abandon his marital vows while at the same time refusing to divorce his wife rendered him unfit to override the wishes of his wife’s parents to have her cared for.

But liberals have gotten off easy for some of the somersaulting arguments they have made on behalf of judicial independence and states’ rights to justify their position that Terri Schiavo should not be saved. Many made the opposite arguments in the Elian Gonzalez case.

Well said. If one believes in law-courts and states rights, then Attorney General Reno was wrong to seize Elian Gonzales. If one believes in law-courts and states rights, then Mike Schiavo has the power to make decisions for his wife.

Fund closes with a quote by Governor Bush

According to some reports, Gov. Jeb Bush considered seizing Mrs. Schiavo, à la Elian, and taking her to a hospital so she could be fed. But he did not do so. “I’ve consistently said that I can’t go beyond what my powers are, and I’m not going to do it,” the governor says. Janet Reno and the Clinton administration showed no such restraint when it came to Elian Gonzalez.

Exactly right. Stop the madness. Bush in 2008!

Fisking Mark Steyn on Terri Schiavo

No compelling reason to kill Terri Schiavo,” by Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times, 27 March 2005, http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn271.html (from Right Wing News).

I was going to call this “Mark Steyn Wrong on .” And then “Mark Steyn Twice Wrong and Terri Schiavo.” Then, “Mark Steyn Thrice Wrong on Terri Schiavo.” But Steyn’s errors and misrepresentations were so many and varied that only a fisking would do.

Let’s start at the top.

This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ”plaintiffs” and ”petitions” and ”en banc review” and ”de novo” and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now — and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo — something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of — would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ”put her out of her misery” after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who’s exhausted her appeals is simply vile.

Mark’s first three paragraphs were an anecdote about Canada, but he makes up for wasted time in a error-ridden paragraph. The offending portions are bolded.

First, his complaint about legalese is at best nonsensical, at worst dangerous. What is he really complaining about? That a custody dispute be settled in the law courts? That a matter of life and death be settled in the law courts? That law courts can be hard to follow? If it’s the first two, he’s condemning the rule of law. If it’s the last, then his concern for Plain English law jargon is parocial in a case that’s captivated the nation.

Second, his “status quo” comment is weird. Courts should have a decent respect for the law. If a law is unjust but otherwise Constitutional, it is the Legilsature’s duty to change it. If Mr. Steyn wants a Constitutional amenmdent stating “Changing things should be assumed ot be bad,” let him push for it!

Third, his repitition of the death-row meme is incoherent. In other places he accuses the court of treating her worse than a killer. So which is it? Got intellectual consistency?

There seems to be a genuine dispute about her condition — between those on her husband’s side, who say she has ”no consciousness,” and those on her parents’ side, who say she is capable of basic, childlike reactions. If the latter are correct, ending her life is an act of murder. If the former are correct, what difference does it make? If she feels nothing — if there’s no there there — she has no misery to be put out of. That being so, why not err in favor of the non-irreversible option?

At best ignorant. At worst dishonest.

If she is in a persistent vegetative state, her actions are governed by her spinal cord. She has the awareness of a lizard. Not a child. Even if she is in a state of minimal consciousness, which her parents and Governor Bush claim, she would be barely aware of her surroundings. In either case, a child is much more aware of his surroundings than Terri is.

The here’s-your-shroud-and-what’s-your-hurry crowd say, ah, yes, but you uptight conservatives are always boring on about the sanctity of marriage, and this is what her husband wants, and he’s legally the next of kin.

Michael Schiavo is living in a common-law relationship with another woman, by whom he has fathered children. I make no judgment on that. Who of us can say how we would react in his circumstances? Maybe I’d pull my hat down over my face and slink off to the cathouse on the other side of town once a week. Maybe I’d embark on a discreet companionship with a lonely widow. But if I take on a new wife (in all but name) and make a new family, I would think it not unreasonable to forfeit any right of life or death over my previous wife.

Michael Schiavo took a vow to be faithful in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till death do them part. He’s forsaken his wife and been unfaithful to her: She is, de facto, his ex-wife, yet, de jure, he appears to have the right to order her execution. This is preposterous. Suppose his current common-law partner were to fall victim to a disabling accident. Would he also be able to have her terminated? Can he exercise his spousal rights polygamously? The legal deference to Mr. Schiavo’s position, to his rights overriding her parents’, is at odds with reality

For another opinion, Jesus of Nazareth

What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate

Oh, but maybe Mike committed adultery…

Wait, Christ again:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You Shall Not Commit Adultery’;
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So Mike fails the test for perfection, as does every mere mortal.

Steyn is arguing for a radical devaluation of marriage, so that it may be seperated by one man without law-court or direct intent without the wife’s consent. That may be Wahabi Sharia (strict Islamic) law. It certainly isn’t American.

As for the worthlessness of Terri Schiavo’s existence, some years back I was discussing the death of a distinguished songwriter with one of his old colleagues. My then girlfriend, in her mid-20s, was getting twitchy to head for dinner and said airily, ”Oh, well, he had a good life. He was 87.” ”That’s easy for you to say,” said his old pal. ”I’m 86.” To say nobody would want to live in an iron lung or a wheelchair or a neck brace or with third-degree burns over 80 percent of your body is likewise easy for you to say.

Anyone whose family has faced that choice would answer, “No, it’s not.”

But that’s easy for us to say. We can’t know which camp we’d fall into until it happens to us. And it behooves us to maintain a certain modesty about presuming to speak for others — even those we know well. Example: ”Driving down there, I remember distinctly thinking that Chris would rather not live than be in this condition.” That’s Barbara Johnson recalling the 1995 accident of her son Christopher Reeve. Her instinct was to pull the plug; his was to live.

He woke up within a decade. Terri didn’t.

As to arguments about ”Congressional overreaching” and ”states’ rights,” which is more likely? That Congress will use this precedent to pass bills keeping you — yes, you, Joe Schmoe of 37 Elm Street — alive till your 118th birthday. Or that the various third parties who intrude between patient and doctor in the American system — next of kin, HMOs, insurers — will see the Schiavo case as an important benchmark in what’s already a drift toward a culture of convenience euthanasia. Here’s a thought: Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don’t want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

Misdirection. Steyn opens talking about those who oppose force-feeding Mrs. Shiavo because of a love of the Constitution and federalism… and ends saying it is unlike that the reader will be effected by the case.


Steyn is a brighter writer than this. He never addresses the concern. An injustice against the Constitution, against our ancient States, is wrong whether or not it effects me.

Conspiracy of the Informed (Judge Refuses Shiavo Motion)

Federal Judge Denies Request to Reinsert Schiavo’s Feeding Tube,” by Abby Goodnough, New York Times, 22 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/22/national/22cnd-schiavo.html.

A federal judge here today refused to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube for the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, denying an emergency request from the woman’s parents and despite the intervention of Congress and President Bush in the case, The Associated Press reported.

Judge Dames D. Whittemore of Federal District Court said the 41-year-old woman’s parents had not established a “substantial likelihood of success” at trial on the merits of their arguments, the agency said.

I guess this makes him “legally blind” too. I mean, where does this “substantial likelihood” talk come from?

Judge Whittemore asked Mr. Gibbs to cite case law that would bolster the claim that Ms. Schiavo’s Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process had been violated, adding, “because we haven’t found any.” Without proof that the state court’s handling of the case violated precedent, Judge Whittemore said, “I think you would be hard pressed to convince me that you have substantial likelihood” of succeeding on the merits of the case.

To win a temporary restraining order, a plaintiff must prove such likelihood.

Oh. Something called “the law.”

The most interesting part of the case are dueling freedoms. Would Mrs. Shiavo have the freedom to refuse the treatment for herself, or does Mr. Shiavo have the freedom to refuse the same treatment on behalf of his wife?

Mr. Felos, representing Mr. Schiavo, sought to focus Judge Whittemore on the question of whether the Congressional act passed in the early morning hours was constitutional. He argued that Congress did not have the authority to allow a federal review of the case because the Constitution says it is up to a state to decide whether due process rights have been violated.

“Yes, life is sacred,” Mr. Felos said, “but so is liberty, your honor, especially in this country.”

A wrinkle I cannot comment on is Mrs. Shiavo’s Catholocism

The lawyer, David Gibbs, also said Ms. Schiavo’s religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic were being infringed because Pope John Paul II has deemed it unacceptable for Catholics to refuse food and water.

(Aside: Why “Ms.” not “Mrs.”?)

It seems that David Gibbs is saying that, out of religious freedom, all non-responsive Catholics should be under Canon law, unless otherwise indicated in writing. Maybe this is what Juan Cole means by the Islamization of the Republican Party?

Let’s hope this tragedy is over soon.

Cross Debates

Two good trans-post debates:

Sites: CCK, tdaxp
Philosophies: tdaxp v. sodakdems
Chad, Seth, Charley, and I are debating jobs v. readiness in Box Elder, South Dakota’s Next Ghost Town?, Ellsworth Revisited, and South Dakotan War on Terrorism (CKK: Daschle is a Traitor)).

Sites: Red Side, tdaxp
Philosophies: tdaxp v. paleocon
Aaron, Adam, Belew, Theo, and I are discussing the Terri Shiavo Case. The posts? Evangelicals: Marriage Irrelevant, Rounds: South Dakota’s Abraham Lincoln, and Terri Shiavo Says She Wants to Live