March 23, 2005--

Siding on the Err of Life regarding Terri Schiavo, Living Wills, Adjudication, Legislation and Administration; George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, the Schindlers, and Tom Delay.

            The raging controversy over the status of Terri Schiavo is a battle between sides blind and deaf to each other's arguments.  It's not "evil" for parents to struggle to save what they believe to be the potentially salvageable life of a daughter.  It may be understandable, but it's nevertheless wrong, for such parents to unjustifiably attempt to characterize as "evil" all those who seek to respect an individual's wishes to not be perpetuated in a medically hopeless condition.  It's doubtful that Mark Schiavo is a saint, but the records in these matters seem replete with examples of gross exaggerations, distortions and misrepresentations against him.  Schiavo's parents (the Schindlers) and their ardent supporters seek legislation to create a potentially multi-year culture-of-life litigation barrier (comparable to the procedures for death penalty litigation) against implementation of clear and convincing evidence of an incapacitated person's desire to not have his/her existence perpetuated without any realistic prospect of ever regaining any meaningful cognitive capacity. 

            One can respect the "err on the side of life" rationale of George W. Bush, Jeb Bush and federal and Florida legislators.  It's hardly "immoral" or "evil" to take a position sincerely perceived as serving to preserve a potential for recovery.  Their "err on the side of life" rationale is certainly no less moral than than the endless efforts of death-penalty opponents.  However, one cannot respect positions such as those expressed by Tom Delay branding as "evil" (or as participants in "murder") the people seeking to implement what a court found by clear and convincing evidence to have been the wishes of Terri Schiavo any more than one can respect the shrill claims of many death-penalty opponents caricaturing those seeking to implement the penalty as "evil" or as participants in "murder" by the state.  

            However, although not "immoral" or "evil," such efforts in this matter are seriously misguided and represent extraordinarily bad judgment.  Most of the arguments advanced by supporters of the Schindlers are really arguments against the very concept of respecting a "living will."  Is it "possible" the physicians have "misdiagnosed" Schiavo's condition?  One certainly can't say that it's "impossible," but if that were to be the test, then it would negate the very concept of a "living will" because it would enable anyone desiring to challenge an incapacitated person's "living will" intentions by finding at least one physician to disagree with the rest, all of whom would be unable to prove it to be "impossible" for their diagnosis to be wrong.  

            The very concept of a "living will" represents a person's desire to forego the remote possibility of recovery in favor of the certainty of avoiding being perpetuated in a medically hopeless state without any realistic chance of ever recovering any meaningful cognitive capacity.  In my opinion, it's inhumane for those who disagree with the concept of a "living will" to demand that those who have expressed such wishes be instead forced to endure the very form of existence they desired to avoid.  Therefore, I "side on the err of life"-- i.e., I'm willing to respect an individual's decision to err in a different way by trading the remote, theoretical possibility of recovery for the certainty of avoiding prolonged suffering.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.



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Mar. 23, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire

Title:  Siding on the Err of Life.

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