Friday, March 18, 2005

Over Her Dead Body

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Doctors removed Terri Schiavo's feeding tube Friday despite an extraordinary, last-minute push by Republicans on Capitol Hill to use the subpoena powers of Congress to keep the severely brain-damaged woman alive, a source close to the case told The Associated Press.

It is expected that it will take one to two weeks for Schiavo to die, provided no one intercedes and gets the tube reinserted. The source had been briefed on the situation but spoke on condition of anonymity.

The removal came amid a flurry of maneuvering by Schiavo's parents, state lawmakers and Congress to keep her alive. Committees in the Republican-controlled Congress issued subpoenas for Schiavo, her husband, and her caregivers demanding that they appear at hearings on March 25 and March 28. But the judge presiding over the case later refused a request from House attorneys to delay the removal, which he had previously ordered to take place at 1 p.m. EST.

"I have had no cogent reason why the (congressional) committee should intervene," Greer told attorneys in a conference call, adding that last-minute action by Congress does not invalidate years of court rulings.

The tube's removal signals that an end may be near in a decade-long family feud between Schiavo's husband and her devoutly Roman Catholic parents, Bob and Mary Schindler. The parents have been trying to oust Michael Schiavo as their daughter's guardian and keep in place the tube that has kept her alive for more than 15 years. The tube has twice been removed in the past, but was re-inserted within days in both cases. Michael Schiavo says his wife told him she would not want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents dispute that, saying she could get better and that their daughter has laughed, cried, smiled and responded to their voices. court-appointed physicians testified her brain damage was so severe that there was no hope he would ever have any cognitive abilities.

...House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, told reporters in Washington earlier Friday that removal of the tube amounted to "barbarism."


Now that Washington has cut in on this bizarre and tragic dance between a Florida family and the state courts, it’s clear that conservative legislators and bigmouths have seized another opportunity to eviscerate the power of so-called “activist judges” with an issue over which the faithful can clasp their hands and keen and grovel in prayer.

But at the end of Terri Schiavo’s long days that bleed into the sameness of night, it comes down to the family pulling a hopeless tug-of-war with that feeding tube.

Is it wrong for her husband to want to move on? It’s likely the woman who was his wife is dead to him. She is gone. If he wanted to be with his girlfriend, with whom he has had children, why wouldn’t he just divorce Terry and leave her care to her parents?

Yet, is it wrong for parents to want to hold on to their child’s (she is still their child) needing grasp, to see signs of their daughter in every muscle twitch and flutter of eyelids, to believe she is still there?

And how wrong is it for Delay et al to exploit these contorted, grief-filled questions in order to pursue their puritanical agenda?

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