Thursday, September 18, 2003

This Is Monstrous

Many of you, I'm sure, have been following the fight to save Terri Schindler Schiavo's life. For those of you who don't know, Terri is a Florida woman who suffered a severe brain injury and is no longer capable of caring for herself. She is curently required to have a feeding tube to maintain nutrition and hydration. Her husband has been seeking the court to order her death by starvation, by removing the feeding tube. This in spite of the fact that doctors have testified that with proper therapy she could regain the ability to eat normally. The husband's motivations are suspect, as he stands to acquire an enormous sum of money (won in a settlement for Terri's injury), and desires to marry his live-in girlfriend. He has been heard by nurses and other health care workers to say things like "Isn't she dead yet?" and "When is that bitch going to die?". A prince of a fellow, you might say.

Well, the court has now ordered that Terri's feeding tube be removed on October 15. The judge has been unmoved by the ample testimony offered by Terri's parents, doctors, nurses, to the effect that Terri could, to a certain extent, be rehabilitated. The court persists in holding that Terri is in a Persistent Vegetative State, when in fact it is clear that, medically speaking, that is simply not the case. Judge George Greer, ever vigilant to allow procedure to triumph over substance and justice, is reluctant to allow any action which would appear to "re-litigate" the case. And now that court is poised to commit judicially ordered murder in response to the self-interested and despicable pleadings of the husband.

The Schindlers (Terri's parents), who have been leading the fight to save her, now have till Oct. 15 to get someone in higher authority to intervene to save Terri. Disgustingly, the husband's attorney protested the Oct. 15 date as too far away, saying it would give the Schindlers time to submit "'frivolous' court pleadings aimed at keeping their daughter alive". "Yer honor," he might have said, "why can't we just off her and be done with it? If you'd just let me in her room with a pillow this could be over in a few minutes."

The Florida bishops have been scandalously mealy-mouthed about the situation. It is time for them to stand up against this. Where have they been? Why haven't they been making a public witness for this woman's life?

If the Schindlers are unsuccessful in further legal efforts, I think that it might be time to consider Civil Disobedience in order to save Terri. Could pickets and protests be effective in moving the civil authorities where legal efforts have failed? If leftists can do these things to save whales or owls, why can't we do it to save a human life?

I am reminded by Judge Greer's decisions of the parable of the Unjust Judge. Perhaps it is time for persistent efforts at public pressure. Perhaps organizing sit-ins or human chains in Judge Greer's courtroom? How about picketing the Judge's home? I'm sure his neighbors will like living next to a man picketed, protested, and publicly reviled as a murderer and tyrant. Maybe public outrage will get through the judge's leathern conscience and atrophied sense of justice.

And finally, if all else fails, do you think that the Schindlers might find, maybe, 500 to 1,000 people to surround the nursing home with a human chain, and prevent the authorities from dispatching Terri? Maybe to fill Terri's room with people on a 24-hour watch, so as to deny access to those who would end Terri's life?

What will it take to save this woman's life?