Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Martyrdom of Terri Schiavo

Since 1990 in the state of Florida, persons condemned to death have a choice of how their death sentence will be carried out. The condemned have the option of electrocution or the less spectacular (and presumably less painful) lethal injection.

One thing is certain: People are executed by the state as punishment for heinous and reprehensible crimes. Nobody gets the death penalty for speeding or shoplifting. Or for being sick, for that matter.

Well, maybe for being sick. Read on.

There was one execution in Florida that transcended the electric chair or the fatal needle, and, equally, had the full weight of Florida law. That legal weight came from Florida Judge Greer, who declared from the bench that Terri Schiavo must die.

Judge Greer issued a death sentence just as effectively lethal as any handed down for murder. It was a legalized medical execution for the crime of being severely neurologically disabled.

But unlike condemned criminals in Florida, Terri was not permitted to choose her method of execution. Instead, Greer, with Terri’s husband and lawyers cheering from the sidelines, imposed execution by starvation and thirst.

I think one could make a compelling argument that the electric chair and lethal injection are less painful ways to die. They are certainly shorter than the 16 days it took Terri to lose her battle against a stacked deck.

As with Florida’s criminally condemned, Terri was surrounded by uniformed law enforcement officers, vigilant lest someone give her a sip of water. They were Greer’s proxies on the scene. They’re not called “law enforcement officers” for nothing.

Terri’s appeals were denied. The people who spoke for Terri were overwhelmed by the pro-deathers.

So, Terri is dead. Executed.

Terri’s dad, Bob Schindler, is dead. His collateral sentence was a broken heart.

Mary Schindler, Terri’s mom, presses on. How, I have no idea.

Bobby and Suzanne labor in the trenches at the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation. If you know them, as I am so very privileged to do, you know that they, too, are broken-hearted, their wounds bound by their love for Terri and their family, and the incredible commitment to never, ever, let Terri’s execution be forgotten.

They labor against things they shouldn’t have to.

Like prominent disability organizations who sanctimoniously gather their hurt feelings around their memberships, pouting about how they think they were treated when they went to the aid of a desperate family, yet still comment on everything Terri to bamboozle their membership that they were the good guys and the Schindlers nothing more than unsophisticated hicks – both then and now.

Like President Obama, who, on February 26th, 2008, in a presidential candidate debate, had this to say about his time in the US Senate:

When I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a situation surrounding Terri Schiavo, and I remember how we adjourned with a unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into that decision-making process of the families. It wasn't something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better.

So, Mr. President, you regret that you’re on record saying that executing Terri was wrong, but then tell us that it really wasn't wrong. Saying it was wrong was a mistake.

Thanks for nothing, Mr. President.

OK, at least we know you’re a pro-deather.

Still, here we are five years later.

Disability groups trash the Schindlers.

The President of the United States thinks intervening to help avoid Terri’s execution was a mistake.

Now what?

Here’s what:

Never, ever, let Terri’s memory and her martyrdom be forgotten.

Contact the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation and at the very least encourage Mary, Suzanne, and Bobby.

Better still, they need your financial and volunteer help – don’t wait to give it to them.

We can’t save Terri, but we sure as heck can save others in her situation, and there are thousands.

Bob, Mary, Bobby, Suzanne, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Without your love for Terri, without your very special roles as advocates for those with disabilities, the world would be a bleaker and more dangerous place for the disabled.

Terri’s is home. We are here.

We will always remember.

We will never forget.

We will fight on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Media Brutality Still Hounds Terri Schiavo 5 Years After Her Death

Terri Schiavo, legally deprived of nutrition and hydration, died five years ago March 31.

Whatever the causes of her collapse on that fateful night in 1990, Terri was instantaneously transformed from a vibrant young woman to a daughter, sibling, and wife with a significant medical disability. Over the years, and against the wishes of her parents and siblings, her rehabilitation was reduced and any possible chance of progress was lost.

In time, Terri became a burden to her husband. No doubt about it, Michael Schiavo wanted Terri dead. He didn’t quite put it that way, of course. Instead, Michael and his pro-death brethren talked about “rights,” “what Terri would have wanted,” and her “poor quality of life.”

Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, just wanted to take her home and care for her. Instead, black-cloaked Judge Greer condemned Terri to death.

Her crime?

She needed to be cared for because she was severely brain damaged.

A legal sentence of death for having a disability.

Aside from the unspeakable personal tragedy of Greer’s decision for Terri’s family, a very clear message emerged from the media: If you are disabled, you don’t matter as much as people who are not disabled.

That message is stronger today than ever, because wherever we turn people with disabilities are demeaned, insulted, and hurt.

Case in point: A recent episode of Fox’s Family Guy opened with Terri Schiavo: The Musical. Aside from ludicrous fabrications (Terri hooked up to a battery of machines, including a ventilator) there are these little gems:

Michael Schiavo: She’s a vegetable!

Chorus: We hate vegetables! (Audience laughs).

Also in the musical’s ditties are references to pulling the plug, Terri’s mashed potato brains, and that she’s the most expensive plant you’ll ever see.

Yes, starving and dehydrating someone to death, very funny. Ha-ha.

Severe brain damage? Let’s throw in a cartoon depiction of pouring her mashed potato brains into a bowl. LOL . . .

And the more disabled they are, the funnier the cheap shots are meant to be.

Despicable, but not surprising.

And picking on Terri was no mistake. It was because she can’t fight back.

It’s the schlock humor of media cowards.

Why cowards? Because they don’t have the you-know-what to deride people who would most certainly fight back. You know, like those suffering with HIV/AIDS or breast cancer.

It’s OK to make fun of people with disabilities.

It's all in fun. Surely they won’t mind.

They’re disabled, after all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Swedish Poster Person for Euthanasia

Those of us who can clearly see the slippery slope from human exceptionalism and the nurturing of life to assisted suicide and euthanasia on demand for any reason are often taken to task for being alarmist and illogical.

Don’t believe that for a minute.

As I have often written, the Netherlands pretty much led the way down the slippery slope beginning in the late 80s. Since then, we’ve seen assisted suicide legalized in several European countries and three US states.

I think it’s fair to say that the UK will likely follow sooner or later. In the UK, the poster person for the right to assisted suicide was Debbie Purdy, a woman with MS who has campaigned for several years to have her partner help her commit suicide without any legal penalty. Purdy’s persistence eventually resulted in an official clarification of UK penalties for those who aid and abet suicide. The clarification is quite vague, ambiguous, and potentially opens the door to all kinds of abuse.

Now Sweden’s own version of Purdy is asking that she be euthanized, and in her case, it will be euthanasia, because she is completely paralyzed and therefore cannot physically be assisted to kill herself by taking lethal meds, as is the case for assisted suicide.

From Sweden’s Radio International:

Swedish Woman Demands Euthanasia

A letter to the Swedish Social welfare board has rekindled the debate here on mercy killing – or euthanasia – at present banned by Swedish law.

The letter has come from a 31-year-old woman who has been tied to a respirator since the age of 6 – growing constantly worse from a neurological disease from birth.

Unable to take a single breath on her own or to move, she is asking to be put to sleep and that the machine be shut off so that she can end her life in what describes as in dignity.

She wants this to be done now – while she still has full mental capacities and before she gets worse.

Her Swedish doctor insists that her request must be respected – otherwise this is forced treatment against her will, and he is asking the association of doctors for a ruling.

The head of the association’s ethical committee says he agrees, that the social welfare authorities have in general agreed with the committee’s line, but now has make a clear decision lifting the ban on euthanasia to make it easier for the patient and the doctors to make their decisions.

Earlier Swedish headlines have been captured by some Swedish terminal patients travelling to euthanasia clinics in Switzerland and elsewhere – to get the help they are denied here in Sweden.

I predict months of handwringing, the pro-deathers loudly commandeering the media for their nihilistic propaganda, and the beatifying of this woman with significant medical disabilities.

I further predict that sooner rather than latter the Swedish legal system will be cowed into going along with euthanasia.

And along the way, trust me, we’ll be told repeatedly what a good, compassionate, and loving idea this is.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Dutch Lead the Way to Barbarism Once Again

The pro-death crowd is usually quick to discount the slippery slope argument when it’s applied to assisted suicide and euthanasia. They are quite good at finessing the slope argument by constantly assuring the gullible that assisted suicide and euthanasia are only for the very few, under extreme and horrible circumstances, and that killing is done humanely and under strict supervision that will almost always prevent abuse (yes, I am talking about killing humans here, not animals).

Too bad the Netherlands has always been the absolute exemplar of the slippery slope from the dignity of exceptionable human life to death on demand. Given recent news, it’s getting increasingly difficult for the pro-death lobby to deny that this slope doesn’t exist.

News reports this week have shown that not only are the Dutch on a slippery slope, but also that they may well have taken a leap of a cliff into the abyss of madness and nihilism.

Why? Glad you asked.

Because now the Dutch are pushing for legal killing of healthy people over 70 years of age.

Yes, you read correctly. If, as they say, you are 70 or over and feel that your life is "complete,” then, they argue, you should be able to go to a trained professional killer and kick the bucket.

From the UK Telegraph:

The influential Dutch "Right to Die" campaign, active since 1973, has launched new "vrijwillig levenseinde", or "of free will", demands to extend euthanasia beyond assisted suicide for terminally ill people.

The group has proposed training non-medical staff to administer a lethal injection to healthy people over the age of 70 who "consider their lives complete" and want to die.

Where’s the slippery slope?

Well, until about 20 years ago, assisted suicide/euthanasia were illegal in the Netherlands. Then they legalized assisted suicide/euthanasia for those who were terminally ill, with less than 6 months to live, and in unbearable or untreatable pain. Very soon this morphed into assisted suicide/euthanasia for people with chronic diseases or pain, then to those who had psychological but no physical pain, and on and on.

Where has this lead? Well, every year in the Netherlands several thousand people are now euthanized without their ever having asked for it.

I know what comes next: Death for anyone, anywhere, for whatever reason. That will include not only the elderly, but also those with disabilities, others the Dutch feel are expendable, and even those who may be judged to have a difficult life of suffering in the future.

I’d have more respect for the pro-death crowd if they just came out and said what they really mean:

Death for all, whenever, just because.