Okay… I’ll talk About Terri Schiavo… Once!

Written by JB Williams


I have been inundated with requests from readers to speak out on this topic, sign and forward a petition, one supporting her parent’s wishes, another allegedly supporting her wishes, as communicated by her husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo.

Until today, I have declined to inject my personal thoughts into this discussion. There is little in this world more difficult or personal than the decisions facing the Schiavo family today. My knowledge on this matter is limited to press reports in which, as a general rule, I have no confidence at all today.

Unlike anyone else with whom I have come into contact, I prefer not to enter this discussion because I simply do not have any answers, only questions. I have not met Terri Schiavo, her husband or her parents. I am not a doctor and I have not examined her or even read a medical report of her current condition. Where I come from, collectively, this makes my opinion near worthless… which is why I’d rather not give it. However…having established my disclaimer…

For those of you unfamiliar with my previous work, I am strongly anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia.

But it’s clear (at least in my mind) that we are not discussing either abortion or euthanasia here. If Michael Schiavo was attempting to accelerate the death of his wife by some medical procedure designed to extinguish the life of one who would otherwise live without the help of any machine, that would be euthanasia and my position would be clear.

I am to understand that this is not the case. We seem to have assisted life taking place, not assisted death…

We are having this national debate simply because two concerned sides of Terri’s family are unable to agree on a proper course of action relative their loved one’s condition. As a result, the courts have been asked to act as arbiter in the matter and we find ourselves caught up in a very real drama with very real consequences.

I relate best to the parent’s position. As a parent, I’m sure I would feel exactly as Terri’s parents do, if in similar circumstances. If I could find a single doctor anywhere (and we know I could), willing to give my child a 1% chance at life, I would fight tooth and nail for that chance, as they are.

On the other hand, without benefit of first hand knowledge, I must allow at least the possibility that Michael Schiavo is truly attempting to carry out his wife’s final request. I must recognize how difficult that decision and process would be for anyone in his position, assuming honorable intentions.

The courts exist for just such an occasion, when two or more concerned parties are unable to agree. Once again, the courts have failed and this is an area of the debate I feel able to comment upon…not from a legality angle, but from a judicial obligation angle.

The court now has an obligation to all parties concerned, but most of all to Terri and it appears to me that the courts have miserably failed these people, Terri in particular.

First, it is my understanding that the courts have disallowed any medical opinions from the parent’s side of the debate. If this is true, it should be a crime. This would mean that all this time, the courts have been ruling with benefit of effectively only one medical opinion, the one allowed before the court by Michael Schiavo’s attorney, who happens to be a euthanasia attorney. (No small mistake)

One would think that in a life and death decision, all medical opinions should be allowed and respected. This does not appear to be the case and this represents the first failure of the courts.

Second, since we know what Michael Schiavo’s doctors have said and can assume that the parents would be able to find doctors willing to give an opposing diagnosis given the opportunity; this too would lead us back to the courts.

As this drama has unfolded over a period of years now, multiple courts have ruled in every direction available, leaving the family even more deeply divided than when they began.

In looking at this case, I have but one question…

Why has no court ordered a full “independent” medical evaluation of Terri Schiavo?

We know both sides can find a doctor somewhere to support their position. We also know that the family is unable to make this decision together. We know that the courts have a poor bed-side manner and are not qualified to arbitrarily make this medical decision.

So why has no court ordered the establishment of a “independent” medical review panel, made up of 3 to 5 respected medical professionals acceptable to both parties, to evaluate the true condition of this beautiful lady whose life hangs in the balance?

I can’t take a side in this debate because I do not have all the facts, neither do you and apparently, neither does any court since they have not ordered them into evidence.

As an aside, those of you who think courts should be making medical decisions better be paying close attention to this case. If you think the government, any branch, is capable of making life and death medical decisions on your behalf, you better take a close look at what is going on here…

I can’t sign a petition for either side in good conscience, any more than I can tell you with any certainty whether or not Michael Jackson is a pedophile, or just a child at heart. I simply don’t know…

I am suspicious of both Michael Schiavo and Michael Jackson, but only on the basis of demonizing press reports, in which I have little faith. Who could argue with the parents? The parents are doing what any loving parent would want to do.

The courts have been asked to help these people find a just resolution to the toughest of decisions and so far activist judges have played only an activist roll on both sides of the debate.

The court has an obligation to help Terri and her family resolve this matter.

Send me a petition demanding the court properly engage in the matter with a full independent medical review and I’ll sign it… We the people should only be demanding the truth, which is not yet visible.

But don’t ask me to make a life and death decision for another, not on the basis of the limited questionable information available at large… I’ll pass!

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