The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terri Schiavo

It is clear that the political dogs on both sides of the aisle have gotten their teeth into this tragic case, and are worrying it to death. There are questions of constitutionality, separation of powers and the balance of States as opposed to Federal rights that will resound for years, if not decades. This is a mess. In short, a woman suffering (probalby) irreversible braindamage has been on life support for fifteen years. Her husband, who has testified under oath that he is fulfilling her wishes, wants the support removed. Her parents want it preserved. The courts have sided with the husband, and congress is pulling heroic measures to overturn the courts.
That is, as far as I can see, the essence of the situation, devoid of value-weighted commentary. It is easy to see the basic arguments of the far edges of left and right, and the waythey demonize each other.
1) The Religious Right wants to establish a Theocracy, to have their private morality intrude on our personal lives. To that end they will bend any law, commit any hypocracy,and drag this woman's private hell into the public arena.
2) The Godless Left wants us on a slippery slope to a purely mechanistic, godless world. They have no respect for life, no morality, and are using this case to strengthen the case for Euthanasia.
And what are the positives? What are good people on both sides probably thinking?
1) On the Light. Life is sacred. The husband may be wrong about what his wife wanted, the doctors might be wrong about her chances for recovery. They are fighting for this woman's life.
2) On the Left. Individual choice is sacred. This woman wanted to die if she was ever in such a vegetative state. It is disrespectful in the ultimate not to respect those wishes, and is the intrusion of government into the most important choice many of us will ever make: when and how to die.
You know? I think that you can pretty much remove politics from this one. This is, in essence, a purely spiritual debate disguised as politics. My guess is that you could predict which side of the argument a person would come down on by asking: Is it permissable for a person to commit suicide? Those who believe there is virtually no circumstance under which a person has the right to end his life will probably lean toward the right on this issue. Those who believe the end of life is a personal choice will probably come down on the left.
Me? I think it's a personal choice. But I grasp the arguments and emotional sets and spiritual beliefs of those who think otherwise. They are not idiots, although there are idiots on both sides of this one. To me, the only real tragedy is the way this woman's image has been paraded across the news. I am quite, quite certain that Terri would be horrified at that. If she had any pride, any sense of grace and style and beauty, she would be mortified. And no matter what is right or wrong ultimately, we have dragged her family's private pain through the mud.

1 comment:

hcg said...

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also engaged! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.