I've been listening to the radio and reading the blogs about the Terri Schiavo case, and forming my own opinion on it.
Look, I don't know what Terri would want, and apparently neither does anyone else. I do know that I would rather not live as she is living (and I intend to get a living will to make sure that others understand that - at least some good will come of this) but I am not at all happy about a judge making the decision to starve her to death over the opposition of her parents. Gerard Van Der Leun's last post from yesterday illustrated the absurdity of the situation:
LET ME SEE IF I UNDERSTAND THE STATE OF THE LAW IN FLORIDA TODAY.Me either.
In Pinellas Park, Florida , there's a man that has gotten the entire legal establishment of the state to help him starve his wife to death, and has arranged for the police to arrest anyone that's trying to bring her food or water. This man is running around free and getting a lot of attention. He has a judge working hard day and night to make sure that his wife will die.
In Homosassa, Florida a man named John Evander Couey, has confessed to abducting and killing a nine year old girl. He is in jail and under suicide watch to make sure he does not die.
In Collier, Florida, Michael Lee Swails, has been put in jail charged with starving his cattle herd.
In Florida today, I score it:
Wives get to die because their husband says so.
Child killers get extra attention so they can't just kill themselves.
Men who starve cattle go to jail.
I'm just not getting this. I'm not getting it at all.
Mrs. Schiavo is not on a respirator. She is obviously brain-damaged, but there is more than a little question of just how severe that damage is, if this NRO column is accurate.
So what we have is a husband who apparently believes deeply (and I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt - huge benefit of the doubt) that his wife would simply rather die than continue living as she is, but because of her brain damage she is unable to end her life herself. As a result, he has sought refuge in the courts, and the courts - for whatever reason - have accomodated him. Actually, one judge has accomodated him.
That's the problem I have here. How did this end up in the hands of one member of the State?
I put myself into Mr. Schiavo's position, mentally - at least the idealized one that he wants to present to the world. My wife has suffered a severe incident which has resulted in severe brain damage. She and I have discussed it, and I know that she would not want to continue her existance in that state, but there is no documentary evidence of this wish.
I do not believe that the State should have the power to decide that she should be starved to death. If shooting her with a shotgun would be illegal, if injecting her with poison would be illegal, if smothering her with a pillow would be illegal, then starving her to death should be equally illegal. The State ought to err on the side of life.
THEN, when all other options are removed from me, if I truly believed that what she wanted was to die, then I would have to decide whether to leave her to exist against her wishes, or I would have to end her life and plead my case before a jury of my - and her - peers.
I trust twelve average citizens far more than one black-robed tyrant.