Thursday, March 31, 2005

Open Season on the Disabled...
Terri Schiavo has died this morning.

Her last few weeks sparked debate in this country on several subjects: the rights of the disabled, the courts, the partisan divide, living wills, euthanasia. In this regard, her death has not been in vain because these were all serious debates that needed to be had. What is so sad about this death, more than others, is the very public manner in which it took place. Terri is not the only person with brain damage or, as some doctors and commentators put it, "in a persistent, vegetative state" hovering on the brink of death this day. There are thousands of other Terri's out there and their continued care is now a going concern.

I do not pretend to know everything about the Schiavo case and was admittedly uninterested in it until the last few weeks. However, it has all the makings of a blockbuster Lifetime movie of the week: helpless woman, ne'er-do-well husband, the other woman, the epic court battles, the distraught family. This, for the time being, will be Terri's legacy --- Oprah will get to make a movie about it and dozens of tabloid-authors will write books about her in the next six months. Her family will grieve, her husband will become rich, the courts will be pilloried, lawyers will make a fortune providing clients with living wills.

However, Terri Schiavo will have an effect on this country in the long term that will be felt for a very long time.

Terri's fight was ultimately about decency. It was about the extra-judicial killing of someone unable to defend herself. It was about the morass the legal system has become. It was about the great divide between the religious and the moral and the secular and the depraved. What was done to Terri was done in the past to political prisoners in Russia and the Jews inNazi Germany; she was dehumanized, made into a political cause celebre and finally starved to death. The difference was that this time the cameras were rolling.

It will only be a matter of time before this ugly scene is repeated in 30 different places in the next 30 days. Another spouse with a husband or wife on life support will go to a court to get permission to remove their vegetative significant other from the apparatus that keeps them alive, avoiding the lengthy and expensive process of maintaining life in that state. Another family will be torn in two, suspended between hope and despair. Doctors will continue to make pronouncements based on very imperfect knowledge that will be taken as Bible truth in a court of law, where a judge who is not qualified to make medical decisions will in truth make them.

The laws will be changed. The judges will be changed. The medical system will come under increased scrutiny. The Right-To-Lifers will see to it. Democrats who insist on fillibustering judicial nominees will be bombarded by hate mail and embarrassed publicly. Terri started a revolution from her bed. It's first victim wil; be Hilary Clinton, who will suddenly start attending church everyday and visiting the the victims of PVS regularly. Even before Terri's body is cold, some democrat has designed a piece of legislation that makes appear as if they care and are fighting for the rights of the diabled. Ultimately, the ploy will fail because people will see it for what it is: grandstanding. Attempting to take advantage of a tragedy in order to position yourself for the mid-term elections.

Terri Schiavo is dead. Her fight, however, will be continued by others -- the fight between the moral and the decadent, the worshippers of life and the cultists of death.

Requiesat en Pacem.

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