It?s official. We?re a culture of death, or at least near that point. This is not a euthanasia debate. In fact, the word “euthanasia” isn?t even acceptable in this context.Euthanasia means “mercy killing,” and there is no mercy in starving a feeble woman to death over the course of thirteen days. There is no mercy in that at all. Murderers on death row are shown more humane ends to their lives.
This is a reflection on the case of Terri Schiavo?s degraded death. After 13 days of starvation, Terri Schiavo died in her hospice with her husband Michael Schiavo standing by her side. He spent more than two years trying to have her feeding tube removed. Yet upon her death, none of Terri?s family, the Schindlers, were permitted to be at her bedside while Michael was in the room. One would call this cruel and a final insult to the Schindler family, but this is the type of power a legal custodian has, so it is supposedly “justice in action.” Perhaps it was Michael Schiavo?s way of payback to her family. After all, they were constantly challenging his judicial motions to remove the feeding tube. How dare they try to save their daughter?s life! Upon hearing the news of Terri Schiavo?s death, President Bush commented that “the essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak.”
What protection? Michael Schiavo, the husband who literally campaigned for his wife?s death by starvation, may not directly be a “murderer” as some critics say, but I raise strong objection to the idea that he did anything to “protect” Terri Schiavo or her life. The fact is that Michael Schiavo has a common law wife and children. He created a family of his own while his wife was living in this state. What does he lose over Terri Schiavo?s death? A wife that he wanted to die to begin with? Some protection!
As a final point, I want to address the comments that Congressional involvement was simply political because of the strong Republican support for Congressional intervention. If the local courts screw up by allowing death by starvation to occur and the Supreme Court doesn?t want any part of it, who else is there to intervene but the law makers? It?s funny how the merits of those who care for human life are attacked by the comments of those who don?t care to respect life at all.
Consider this to be the new anti-life rhetoric. I could see members of Congress literally telling each other, “You?re only pro-life to get votes. You don?t really believe in it.” There is no shame in acting on principle, but there is shame in devaluing some one else who is standing up for their principle when saying, “You?re just doing it for political gain.”
The legacy of the Terri Schiavo?s case could be a dangerous one. The intensity has fostered a belief in American public opinion that people are better off dead than they are disabled. There is a serious problem in our heads if we actually believe this.
There was a German dictator who went by this thinking. As the record shows, he presided over one of the worst genocides in history and caused a world war. Not to say that another Hitler is emerging out of America, but after this case, we seriously need to rethink how we look at the value of human life. When people devalue their own lives and human life in general, despotism and evil easily emerge.
Anthony Maalouf is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in Spanish.