Views on politics and current events

Monday, April 04, 2005

Another Reply To The Same Fundamentalist Preacher

Written in reply to an ugly article written by a clergyman

The tragedy of Terri Schiavo has been the catalyst for much discussion in this country. Most people have an opinion one way or the other. Let us remember, no matter what that opinion may be, none of us knows the whole story, the pain and suffering endured by the Schiavo and Schindler family.

Rev. Porter has accused Michael Schiavo, his attorney, and the courts of nothing less than murder. Under the pretext of “right to life”, Rev. Porter and others have ignored and dismissed medical and legal expertise. We all have to resort to an ‘expert’ some time in our lives. Whether it be an auto mechanic, an accountant, a medical professional, a member of the clergy, an attorney. So why has the medical expertise of not one, but many physicians and healthcare professionals been reputed in this case? Why has the legal expertise of not one but many judges been reputed in this case? Ignorance. Ignorance of the law, ignorance of medical knowledge.

Terri Schiavo was not exterminated by a judiciary out of control. This case has shown that our judicial system works. Was there even one time the court ruled in favor of the Schindler’s after so many appeals? Congress and the Bush brothers were not rebuffed at every turn. Indeed, after a somewhat questionable ‘order’ from Congress for the Florida courts to re-examine the case, the previous rulings were upheld. So Rev. Porter can say the judiciary is full of ‘ignorant men and women in black robes that are serving as a super-legislature’ all he wants. Such is not the case for the majority of judges. These rulings were not made by a conspiracy of flaming liberal/secular humanist judges, but by some judges that are actually considered conservative. Terri left no document expressing her wishes. The only thing the court had to go by was her husband’s testimony as to what she told him. After due process, the court determined that Michael Schiavo knew her wishes and ruled accordingly. Perhaps that wasn’t the best way to determine this, but what other way is there without documentation?

Michael Schiavo did not murder his wife. If this was his intent, why did it take fifteen years? Why did he personally take care of her for eight years, and after she was put in a facility ensure that she got the best of care? The easiest thing for the husband to have done was to sign over guardianship to the parents, but he did not do that. Why did he continue for so many years? Only he can answer that. As far as no PET scans or MRI being given? This issue reflects more on our ignorance of the medical particulars of the case than any murderous intent by the husband, doctors or attorneys. Yes, he has a woman and two children ‘on the side’, but I do not condone or condemn his actions. It is his business, his conscience, and as has been said, he will have to face his maker.

Was Terri Schiavo in a vegetative state? In my ignorance I can’t say she was or wasn’t. Experiences of visiting comatose and otherwise incapacitated people does not make one an expert in these matters. All of these cases are different. Even if I had all of the medical records and legal documents before me, I couldn’t make a valid determination. I dare say Rev. Porter couldn’t either. The court appointed physicians to examine Ms. Schiavo. They looked at all the evidence and professional opinions and ruled accordingly.

So what can we really learn from all this? Get a living will. Make your wishes known to your family. Know that, although sometimes the courts make unpopular decisions that you don’t agree with, the system works. Realize that all of us have a right to voice opinion and work towards the change we desire, but trying to do so by circumventing the constitution and the judicial branch of government isn’t the way. That concern for the right to life goes beyond a tragic media circus and should include over 1,500 U.S. soldiers and countless Iraqi citizens that have died in the war (a war that Rev. Porter supports), the people that can’t afford medical care and the budget cuts being made in social programs that so many depend on (being done by an administration that Rev. Porter supports).

One last thing to ponder: If God truly works in mysterious ways, what if by working through Michael Schiavo, the attorneys and the courts, God has used them to call Terri home to rest? Or is this not in the realm of possibility, even for a God that works in ways we do not understand?


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