Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hope Fades

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that the family of Terri Schiavo "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" that her feeding tube should be reinserted immediately, describing their decision as "a question of law". One of the three judges dissented and he has been the only one to agree that there can be no justice for Mrs. Schiavo and her family if she is allowed to be physically damaged or to expire before the court can fully review her case. Judge Charles R. Wilson, saying that Terri's "imminent" death would end the case, wrote: "In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube".

Two federal courts have now refused to give life a chance, apparently believing that they are applying the law as it is written. We are a nation of laws, thank God. Unfortunately, in this case, the law is not our friend. The Schindlers are continuing the fight to save their daughter and sister, but the prognosis is not good. The U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to intercede. There have obviously been legal mistakes on the side fighting for life; the Schindlers' attorneys, the U.S. Congress. The Schindlers, in their desperation, have called upon the strident Randall Terry to be a spokesman, which seems an unwise decision. Michael Schiavo is the legal guardian of his estranged wife and he wants her dead.

Our representatives, the Congress, spoke for us when they pleaded with the Federal Court in Florida to give the Schiavo case a new look. The federal judge heard two hours of testimony and refused to save Mrs. Schiavo's life and refused to take a fresh look at the circumstances of her case. He had the power to stop Terri's starvation. Instead, he snubbed the President, the Congress and "we the people" who had petitioned Congress for action.

Mr. Schiavo has claimed that his wife said that she would not want to live under such circumstances. Terri was a very young, healthy woman when tragedy struck and she had been raised as a Catholic. If her views on dying were so opposed to her Church's teachings, would she not have left written instructions? Why cannot the beliefs of that religion regarding life and death be assumed to be her beliefs, especially since she left nothing written to contradict her own church's dogma? Terri's life remains in the hands of a husband she was planning to leave, an overbearing husband some friends suspect of physical abuse, a man disliked by Terri's friends and caretakers, a man who cannot appreciate the agony of his estranged wife's family. Terri is not a sick woman. She is a damaged human being who probably can never be restored to her former self. She needs only food and water to survive. Why must she be condemned to death? We can only pray for a happy resolution.

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