Saturday, March 26, 2005

Grief and power

"[Gov. Jeb Bush] has put Terri through a week of hell and our family through a week of hell by not acting," said Bob Schindler, father of Terri Schiavo.

After everything that Jeb Bush has done it seems quite remarkable to hear him now being attacked by Terri Schiavo's parents as this tragic tale finally winds to an end. But I can understand the Schindlers in some ways. Everybody knows that they have been through a terrible ordeal and have not come to grips with the idea of losing their daughter even after 15 years in a vegatative state. But they have also been on quite a heady power trip these past few weeks with round-the-clock media attention and just about every politician and courtroom in the country ready to jump every time they call. The average person is unlikely to ever get a legal case before the Supreme Court and those that do must usually wait months if not years for any action. But the Schindlers can file a legal action and have the highest court in the land give it immediate attention every time.
So it is no wonder that they would feel like they can be justified in berating the governor of Florida for not jumping through the latest hoop in this circus that is being orchestrated by the religious right fundamentalists. Fortunately, Jeb Bush must still value his political future because he is unlikely to heed the religious fundamentalists and call out the National Guard to forcibly take control of Terri Schiavo in contravention to every court in the land.

In my previous post, I defended Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, as having been unfairly maligned during this whole ordeal. I think the record is clear that he did everthing that was reasonably possible and then some to try and rehabilitate Terri to some semblance of conciousness. Nevertheless, I think he is wrong now and should have conceded to let Terri's parents take over guardianship at this point. I understand that Michael thinks he is doing what Terri would have wanted by ending the artificial life support that is keeping her alive at this point. But I would point out that it no longer matters to Terri. I don't believe she has any awareness in a physical sense of what is going on and therefore it does not matter to her whether the feeding tube stays in or out. But it does matter to her parents, and since they refuse to accept that she is gone they are the only ones who are suffering by having the feeding tube removed. Terri was never going to be able to fulfill her dreams of being a wife and mother, but what is left of her was serving at least one good purpose by giving her parents a focal point to their lives. That is why it was wrong for Michael to end life support - not because it is hurting Terri - but because it is hurting the Schindlers.

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