Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Terri Schiavo: A Life of "Indelible Impact"

USA Today has named Terri Schiavo one of the top 25 people who "moved us" in the last 25 years. Hmmm. I know her family would rather she hadn't made such an impact, that instead, she were still alive and being cared for in the bosom of their love.

It is undeniable though that Terri did profoundly impact the world. As I travel nationally and internationally speaking, she remains very much on people's minds and in some of their hearts.

And that impact continues. Her brother Bobby Schindler, with whom she was very close in life, continues to hold her flame aloft throughout the world. Bobby has become a very good friend. I have watched, deeply moved, as he has harnessed his profound and continuing grief to grow from a somewhat shy individual into an eloquent advocate and speaker on behalf of disability rights and the sanctity/equality of all human life. I have often appeared with him, most recently last week at an anti-euthanasia conference in Edmonton, and his personal decency and abiding love for Terri never fails to deeply move his audiences. Both loved and loathed for their desperate fight to save Terri's life, Bobby and the entire Schindler family also, in my view, continue to make an important and indelible impact.

USA Today opines that Terri's contribution concerns living wills. I disagree. I think her most profound legacy is that after Terri, no one can now say they are unaware that we dehydrate people to death because they have profound cognitive disabilities.

In the end, I think, Terri is a mirror upon whom we project our own deepest feelings about life, death, disability, helplessness, personal control, and mortality. People who are capable of moving the world as she unquestionably did are few and far between. There was clearly something very special about Terri Schiavo that surpassed the bitter politics of her death. So, yes: USA Today got this one right. Her life had--and continues to have--a profound and indelible impact on us all.



At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

The Terri Schiavo experience made me a states-rights libertarian. I saw an out-of-control Congress reach far into the private sphere, states-rights, and the realm of courts. All at the same time they cut Medicare.

It made me very, very angry.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger JacqueFromTexas said...

States rights? So a state has the right to starve and dehydrate it's cognitively disabled folk?

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Don Nelson said...


Thanks for the update that people are still thinking about Teri. I was afraid she was fading from our memories.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

A state has the right to set its own rules for health care, including when and if LST should be withdrawn.

A state has the right to punt that question to the family.

If the family disagrees, the state has the right to let its own courts decide.

Florida did and Congress should have respected it.

Congress never, never, never has the right to intervene.


At May 30, 2007 , Blogger rollinon86 said...

Mr. Royale, you have totally misinterpreted and misunderstood the role of Congress in the Schiavo case and of course Michael Schiavo and his ilk continue to take you down that wrong road. The sole intent of Congress was to grant a de novo review of the case in the federal court, a civil habeas corpus so to speak. That was denied. There were just too many conflicts, to many questions, just no clear and convincing anything except that Michael Schiavo had all the wrong motives. The Schiavo case was totally a case about disability rights and should not have become the test case for euthanasia in this country.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

I believe Congressmen went down to Florida and joined the spectacle. The President ran home from his vacation spot in Texas to sign that law, when just weeks before there was a mass killing at a school on a Indian Reservation and he made no hurry to visit that.

And who says Congress should be granting de novo review of such private matters?

Should I be incapacitated, the last thing I would want is Congress passing resolutions to "grant de novo" review as part of a massive publicity stunt. Nope. Unplug me....puhlease!!!!!

All by people who oppose universal health care. I can see hypocrisy for what it is and it disgusts me.

No. Respect the court decisions, respect families, Congress deserved no role.

And don't get me started on the media...

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Royale: Calm. The Congress was mostly unified in favor of the bill, both Dem and Rep. In the U.S. Senate, it received unanimous consent. ANY SINGLE Democrat or Rep. could have stopped it. None did. Not Sen. Clinton. Not Senator Reid. Not Senator Edwards. None of them. Indeed, Tom Harkin was a prime mover and shaker behind the scenes, and I believe he is for universal health care. POTUS came to sign because she was actively dehydrating to death. Not rushing would have missed the point.

On the House side, 40% of Dem. caucus supported the bill. The others argued your point, which is a good and solid one. I thought the debate in Congress was actually one of its finest hours with both sides making very important and heart-felt arguments.

So, actually, the Schiavo federal law was actually one of the most bipartisan during the Bush Adm. Revisionists can't change that reality.

That should not change your mind about its propriety, of course, but it should certainly cool your anger about which "side" is to "blame."

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

Bipartisan? Well, that was part of the problem. The fact that anyone in Congress felt he had both the right and the duty to intervene deeply angered me. And yes, that changed my outlook on the federal governnment.

Both sides would be made out to be hypocrites. Dems for espousing personal privacy and Repubs for making lots of healthcare decisions but not paying for them.

And I think those votes were taken before the public polls started to roll in showing that the public, by a landslide (~80%), disfavored Congressional intervention.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Susan said...

If de novo review is good enough for those on death row, it was good enough for Terri Schiavo.

That judge (Greer) should have been stripped of his license to practice law. He totally screwed up with his initial ruling, and the appellate courts could not rule on finding of fact.

"My side," meaning far too many of those on the left, wanted to turn this case into some kind of litmus test on "pro-choice" nonsense. Well, when you have somebody as totally lacking in credibility as Michael Schiavo and represented by somebody as wacko as George Felos, it's not a good case to take the opposite side of the Schindlers. That's all the so-called left in the blogosphere and boards like Democratic Underground were concerned about. They took one look at the media's twisting of who supported the Schindlers, and figured, because the right-to-life people are a bunch of theocratic crazies, well, Michael Schiavo was an okay guy.

The facts didn't matter. They even twisted the autopsy findings, which didn't support the "loving husband's" claims.

It was a disability rights case. A few people here need to read up on what all too often happens to people with cognitive disabilities in this country.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Susan said...

Wesley, I believe John Edwards was out of the Senate when the de novo review bill came up.

I believe most of Congress was out of session when this came up for a vote. As I recall, there weren't that many representatives or senators present for the vote. In any case, many Democrats DID support a de novo review, including Tom Harkin.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

Congressional intervention requiring de novo review may be constitutional and I would even support it if they presented it right, however, let's be honest about March 2005 - it was all a big media circus event. Our illustrious Senators, Congressmen, and President had nothing better to do than second guess doctors, a state's court system, and a grieving family to give speeches on the doorstep of a woman in hospice care. My goodness!

Would you want that? I would not.

Does anyone care about limited government anymore? Well, I do.

And I would fight and die for your right to keep Congress out of your deathbed, regardless if you want a feeding tube or not.

At May 30, 2007 , Blogger Don Nelson said...

Royale, I don't think you can fault anyone for second guessing the judge and his doctors, especially the one who called himself Dr. Death. They were pathetic. I agree with Susan, he should be thrown off the bench. If it was the right thing to do, it doesn't matter if it was a circus event. I think the media made a circus out of it, not the Congress. And it was good that they did because it sure punctured a lot of the legal and medical boulder dash that was going on. Schiavo can sue the medical staff who spoke against him if it's not true.

Would I want the speeches? You bet I would if I didn't want to die. We don't know that Teri wanted to die except that her husband who was shacking up with another woman while his wife needed medical attention, said she wouldn't want to live. Some witness he was. If I didn't want to die and my wife was trying to put me away and brutally kill me by dehydration, I would welcome any congressman, hyprocrite or not, to plead my case. The bigger the circus, the better my chances to keep from being killed/murdered.

I agree with Susan. I think her comments show that you don't have to be on the same side of the abortion debate to agree on these other non abortion matters. Hence, everything is not about abortion. Holy Second Hand Smoke.

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

The media circus was not just the media's making, but it was incited and fueled by the protesters, Congressmen, and the president.

Given that the issue of what Terri would have wanted was litigated for 16 years, I would assume they looked at all the evidence. If they found the husband more persuasive than the family, even if the husband had re-married, then I am confident the court did its job. That's proper.

But if we're going to talk about the motivations of people who we don't know (unless you do actually know Terri's husband), then I can't think of anything more appauling than those protesters who let their child be arrested for carrying a glass of water to the Terri's porch. To think that there are people out there who not only want to invade other people's deathbeds, but exploit their own children in the process, is truly, truly sickening.

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

The very thought of someone being arrested for trying to take a glass of water to someone else dying of thirst make me want to cry and scream. I cannot believe that happened in America. Unbelievable.

If my daughter were being killed this way, you bet I'd welcome a media circus. Complete with clowns and trained elephants. I'd welcome anything that might save her life.

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Don Nelson said...

I don't know Saddam Husssein or Osama Bin Laden, but it doesn't take a personal encounter to figure out what kind of human beings they are. I don't think you can compare the motives of a man shacking up for 10 years trying to kill his wife and sending a child with a glass of water to help a woman being killed by thirst.

Fr. Frank Pavone told our audience that when he went in to minister to Terri just before her death, there were police watching over his shoulder to make sure he didn't give her a drop of water or a communion wafer. Pavone said while Terri was dying of thirst, there were cut flowers for Teri drenched in a vase of water. Something is horribly wrong when we treat cut flowers with more dignity than we treat human beings. But then again, what do you expect of the bioethical community? They think people like Terri are vegetables and potted plants. Schiavo's attorney said as much.

But Terri was not dying. She was not sick. She had no terminal illness. She was not in a coma. She was not on life support. Terri was not alone and she did not request death. Her parents and family would have taken care of her for the rest of her life.

It's one thing to respect a person's right to refuse treatment and die-like my mother did. It's another to stand around when an innocent person is being put to death and there's no consent.

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

And now a word from our sponsor: This isn't aimed at anybody, but just in case--I don't want to retry the case. People's minds are pretty much made up on that score. Let's limit comments to the impact Terri or her case had on us as individuals, upon the law, or on society.

And now back to you...

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Royale said...

The Terri situation became the basis of a great comedy routine by Margaret Cho. Or, at least I thought it was funny. Present company...would probably not think it's funny.

At May 31, 2007 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

Well, I don't think Cho is ever funny.

TWEET! Smith is off topic. Ten yards for irrelevant posting.

At June 02, 2007 , Blogger Richard said...


No state has the right to starve and dehydrate an innocent disabled woman to death. This is the first time in American history that an American judge, George Greer, signed an order of execution to end the life of a disabled woman by starvation and dehydration. Doing this very thing to an animal is against the law, yet a state can do this to a disabled woman.


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