Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Murder Most Foul

There used to be certain accepted moral boundaries, things which were always done or not done in a unanimous sense of moral law. You didn’t deliberately cause needless suffering, or deny justice to those most in need of it. And the best of men, the doctors, took an oath of conduct which says in part “I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”. It was understood for many centuries, regardless of culture or faith, that life was precious and not to be discarded, especially at the desire of another person.

So it should have been a simple and easy decision, when the husband of a woman suffering from brain damage, on no evidence or documentation of any sort that she so desired, demanded that she be killed, in apparent desire that he be done with her as an obligation (the man not only had taken a mistress while married, but had children by her while claiming he still loved and was “devoted” to Terri). Absent compelling evidence that she wanted to die, Terri Schiavo should have been allowed to live.

But Michael Schiavo had smart lawyers, if few scruples, and pressed his case until Terri was dead. And not just killed, but starved to death in an excruciating ordeal which took thirteen days to finish.

Think about that. A convicted murderer in California remains alive because doctors worried that his much-deserved execution might cause him pain for a little while, perhaps a minute or so, but no court found it unreasonable to starve an innocent woman to death over a two-week period, even in the total absence of evidence that she had any desire to die. Her parents were barred from her hospice room until after she was dead, and were not even allowed to go to her funeral.

If this nation holds any true ideals, Terri Schiavo must be remembered, and this cruel injustice called plainly what it was; court-abetted murder. Do not forget.

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