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Err On The Side Of Life.

Some conservatives and liberals alike feel like Congress has no authority to step in and save Terri Schiavo.

They say this is an issue of federalism, a matter to be left to the states. Some liberal bloggers go one step further, asserting that Republicans are using Terri as a pawn in their morals game. For much of the left, Terri is just part of a a "trumped-up culture war," a "circus" in which the Christian Right has decided to "play their part as hack partisans rather than genuine advocates for the culture of life."

Another left-wing blog tries to compare the Terri Schiavo situation, in typical liberal fashion, with Medicaid "cuts," arguing that Republicans are really the big meanies for wanting to slow the explosive growth of Medicaid benefits and calling those who support Terri Schiavo living are really just part of a "cult."

Another left-wing blog posing as the ideological heir to Teddy Roosevelt believes "Congressional Republicans are engaged in an orgy of grandstanding" in all this Schiavo stuff, and, even more, "Frist has his eye trained on the Iowa caucus rather than the Hippocratic oath."

Ever-cynical, another liberal blogger believes the hubbub over Terri Schiavo is really just an attempt to change the subject from Tom DeLay's fundraising questions, that Karl Rove must have concocted this whole thing as a way of "setting the stage for a possible exercise of the filibuster-quashing 'nuclear option' in the full Senate."

Yet another liberal blogger calls the Schiavo situation "melodrama" and "play -acting":

...the GOP's Schiavo intervention is of a piece with other cynical efforts by Bush and his supporters to signal support for a "culture of life" without much regard for logic and consistency.

Indeed, readers of the same blog are upset that some Democrats would support legislation to save Terri Schiavo.

The head honcho of liberal blogs angrily attacks Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a pro-life Mormon, for supporting the Schiavo bill:

This base political game from Republicans was, if something needed to be said, to be denounced, not to be praised. You, Sen. Reid, have just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, letting the GOP off the hook for this sheer abuse of power and lunacy. This is simply a terrible terrible decision, not because it will hurt Dems, but because it doesn't allow the American people to have a clear view of how extremist and out of the mainstream the GOP is.

Later, after its cognitive dissonance had been resolved, the blog issued somewhat of a retraction and apology to Reid.

Wizbang blog explains:

So for all their posturing and complaining, the leadership only got 53 of their fellow Democrats to vote for Terry Schiavo's death sentence. The vast majority of the Democrats were smart enough to stay away from this one. 112 Democrats refused to vote at all.

This was brilliant. For 53 votes, they tar their whole party with the stench of trying to kill this poor woman. They define tone-deaf. And Howard Dean calls Republicans "brain dead."

Which Dem is going to take the blame for this bright idea?

A conservative blog offers pictures of some of the Congressional Democrats so intent on death in this case (via blogsforterri.com).

Why, though, is the clear human case of Terri Schiavo a partisan issue at all?

This is not about "letting her die" this is about actively withholding food from a human being.

The Democrats want her to starve to death.....

They are afraid that if Terri lives people might think life is important or something.

Captain's Quarters explains how Democrats in the House blocked a voice vote, forcing a difficult-to-achieve weekend quorum, tackily delaying the bill they knew would pass eventually anyway.

Some on the conservative side of the aisle believe that, while the case may be tragic, Congress overstepped its Constitutional bounds.

Today The Wall Street Journal shreds that argument, taking on the legal side of this issue:

The conservative Republicans leading this effort--Senators Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, Representative Tom DeLay--are taking hits for supposedly abandoning their federalist principles.

We'd have more sympathy for this argument if the same liberals who are complaining about the possibility of the federal courts reviewing Mrs. Schiavo's case felt as strongly about restraining the federal judiciary when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues they don't want to trust to local communities. In any event, these critics betray their lack of understanding of the meaning of federalism. It is not simply about "states' rights." Conservatives support states' rights in areas that are not delegated to the federal government but they also support federal power in areas that are delegated.

Think of an analogy to the writ of habeas corpus. As John Eastman of the Claremont Institute points out, "We have federal court review of state court judgments all the time in the criminal law context." The bill before Congress essentially treats the Florida judgment as a death sentence, warranting federal habeas review. Mrs. Schiavo is not on life support. The court order to remove the feeding tube is an order to starve her to death. Moreover, Mrs. Schiavo is arguably being deprived of her life without due process of law, a violation of the 14th Amendment that Congress has the power to address.

James Q. Wilson, in a piece called "Killing Terri," in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), argues (via Michelle Malkin):

What is lacking in this matter is not the correct set of jurisdictional rules but a decent set of moral imperatives. That moral imperative should be that medical care cannot be withheld from a person who is not brain dead and who is not at risk for dying from an untreatable disease in the near future. To do otherwise makes us recall Nazi Germany where retarded people and those with serious disabilities were "euthanized" (that is, killed). We hear around the country echoes of this view in the demands that doctors be allowed to participate, as they do in Oregon, in physician-assisted suicide, whereby doctors can end the life of patients who request death and have less than six months to live. This policy endorses the right of a person to end his or her life with medical help. It is justified by the alleged success of this policy in the Netherlands.

But it has not been a success in the Netherlands. In that country there have been well over 1,000 doctor-induced deaths among patients who had not requested death, and in a large fraction of those cases the patients were sufficiently competent to have made the request had they wished.

Keeping people alive is the goal of medicine. We can only modify that policy in the case of patients for whom death is imminent and where all competent family members believe that nothing can be gained by extending life for a few more days. This is clearly not the case with Terri Schiavo. Indeed, her death by starvation may take weeks. Meanwhile, her parents are pleading for her life.

National Review calls the Schiavo case one of "Too Vigorously Assisted Suicide":

...opponents of the bill were left with various complaints of hypocrisy. The conservatives who wanted to save Mrs. Schiavo were said to be trampling on their traditional beliefs in federalism and the sanctity of marriage. The complaint about federalism would have more force if we had reason to think that the people of Florida, acting through their legislature, had prospectively blessed the decisions of Judge Greer. But Judge Greer has twisted the state's law; and the legislature has enacted a law designed to save Schiavo's life, which the states' courts set aside. The sanctity of marriage, meanwhile, has never been held to be so absolute that authorities could not take action to prevent someone from killing a spouse.

It is hard, again, to believe that most citizens who approve of assisted suicide meant to create laws that would allow it in a case of this type. We applaud Congress for having taken corrective action last night, and we hope this case brings attention to the cavalier manner in which the law too often allows the killing of the sick.

Fred Barnes offers three key facts of the case which make Congressional review completely warranted:

* Terri Schiavo is brain damaged but not brain dead. She is not on life support. She breathes on her own. She occasionally laughs. She reacts to stimuli. She responds at times to her parents. She is not dying, though she needs a feeding tube. A doctor diagnosed her as being in a "permanent vegetative state" but other doctors have disputed that view. Indeed there are legitimate questions about her initial diagnosis.

* Schiavo's parents have offered to take full responsibility for her care, relieving her husband of any obligations whatsoever. They are willing to pay the expenses of her hospitalization and any rehabilitation program.

* Senate majority leader Bill Frist, himself a doctor, has talked to a neurologist who examined Schiavo. The neurologist told
him that with proper care of a type she hasn't received there is a good chance that Schiavo's condition will improve markedly.

You can listen to Terri and her father from Friday, here (in .mp3 form):
Terri Schiavo audio.

You can also listen through here (it is heart-breaking).

When President Bush signed the bill potentially saving Terri's life, he commented:

Today, I signed into law a bill that will allow Federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life. In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life. This presumption is especially critical for those like Terri Schiavo who live at the mercy of others. I appreciate the bipartisan action by the Members of Congress to pass this bill. I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all Americans, including those with disabilities.

Err on the side of life.


This case seems so simple. Let Michael Schiavo have his freedom to move on with his life. If he is worried about having to be responsible for her medical care in the future, allow him to fully and legally separate from his wife. Remove any obligation, past, present, or future, and let him marry the mother of his new children. Let all that happen.

Meanwhile, allow Terri's real family to protect her. Let her parents have medical custody over her. Let them take care of her. They want to, desperately.

Everyone can get what they want here, but Michael Schiavo and his lawyer seem intent on seeing Terri dead. Michael Schiavo can go and live his life the way he wants, while Terri lives under the care of her parents.

How is that so hard?


A Certain Slant of Light blog has more on the federal judge who will review the case: "JUDGE WHITTEMORE PROTECTS EAGLES, SO SURELY HE'LL PROTECT TERRI."

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 March 2005 10:06 AM


It is AMAZING how Terri's rights have been totally neglected and violated by her so called Guardian/husband... The courts are suppose to insure the guardian is protecting and caring for the incapacitated individual. This man has taken the settlement funds, with Judge Greers consent and knowledge to pay for legal fees! These are legal fees to insure she meet her demise none the less! WOW! I know for a fact that this is clearly violating all of Terri's basic human right. . .
Remember, Terri was awarded an out of court settlement of over a million dollars! michael was appointed guardian and was left in charge of taking care of her welfare. He took the money and found a New Common Law Family. Now isn't that special?

Posted by: Linda at March 21, 2005 12:02 PM

Whip! me Beat! me I'm TRASH... Hallelujia! I hope Michael gets put in the slammer for misusing Terri's settlement funds! For punishment he should have to stay in solitary confinement and have his food and water rationed! what a great idea...

Posted by: Zsa zsa at March 21, 2005 12:15 PM

Will, thanks for your views. I found them via your link on the Polipundit site, so I've posted my comment there: http://polipundit.com/wp-comments-popup.php?p=6893&c=1#comment-393289

Posted by: gs at March 21, 2005 01:02 PM

It looks to be pretty bleak for Terri! The new judge is a liberal democrat appointed by Bill Clinton... If politics truly are playing a role in this? Terri's life is about to be over!

Posted by: Linda at March 21, 2005 05:24 PM

It looks to be pretty bleak for Terri! The new judge is a liberal democrat appointed by Bill Clinton... If politics truly are playing a role in this? Terri's life is about to be over!

Posted by: Linda at March 21, 2005 05:25 PM

I am wodering If Judge Whitmoore has had his V8 TODAY?

Posted by: Zsa zsa at March 22, 2005 06:45 AM

The Judges decision not to consider getting a new diagnosis in this case is a clear violation of the rights of all disabled Americans!

Legally, under the law, no one should be allowed to die in this manner.

Especially without a LIVING WILL. The laws are very clear. This case will have lingering effects for all. When Terri is dehydrated and starved to death these judges should be reprenanded for not taking a closer look at these circumstances!

Deaf ears have fallen on the side for Terri...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at March 23, 2005 01:46 PM