March 25, 2005--

It's time for those demanding intervention for Terri Schiavo to recognize that our needs for adjudication based on law and facts rather than emotional blindness is why we have courts.

            Despite being a non-theist, I yield to no one in defending George W. Bush against the shrill, fanatical accusations so often leveled against him and his religious motives by the Secular Fundamentalists, who've consistently shown themselves to be far less tolerant toward non-fanatical people of faith than Bush has been towards non-believers.  Although I strongly disagree with the decision by President Bush (and Jeb Bush) and the Congress to attempt to intervene directly in judicial proceedings in a way designed to substitute legislative and/or executive functions for judicial functions, the testing of powers between our three branches of government is part of the constitutional process designed by what obviously were some of the greatest minds in history.  Thus far, those tests of power have left the legitimate authority of the judiciary intact.

            Now, fanatics, who (on religious grounds) oppose self-determination, personal autonomy and individual liberty exemplified by the very concept of a "living will" as well as the concept of a court having the power to determine when evidence other than a "living will" is sufficient to "clearly and convincingly" establish an unwritten equivalent of a living will, are urging Jeb Bush to seize custody of Terri Schiavo and re-insert the feeding-tube against what the court found by clear and convincing evidence to have been her wishes to the contrary.  This is a line Jeb Bush should not, and, which I believe he will not, cross.

            For those of us not desiring to lose our rights of self-determination, the next challenge will be to defeat the efforts those who would propose, or support, actions to make such rights virtually meaningless through legislation to create a framework for protracted litigation (like the procedures for challenging death sentences) to challenge court decisions finding clear and convincing evidence of an incapacitated person's desire to refuse medical treatment and ordering compliance with such desire.  It would almost always be possible to find some ideologically motivated physician to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to show the hopelessness of a patient's medical condition and almost always possible to make insufficient-evidence arguments against findings that an incapacitated person would desire to refuse treatment.  This risk would apply to "living wills" as well as other forms of evidence (such as testimony) because it's simply impossible to draw a "living will" in such a way as to make it "bullet proof" regardless of the circumstances.  Opponents of respecting such self-determination could always argue that the "evidence" would show that the person had "changed his/her mind" but simply forgot to, or didn't have time to, revoke or modify the "living will" or argue that the person wouldn't have intended the "living will" to apply to the particular circumstances at hand.  

            Everyone sympathizes with the emotional trauma of the Schindlers in their inability to accept the reality that the person-hood of their daughter has, in effect, been dead for years.  It's understandable for parents to be blind to such reality.  Emotional blindness can lead to profound intellectual disability to objectively accept reality.  I'm a parent.  I certainly can't say that my love of my sons couldn't blind me to such reality if I were in such circumstances.  However, others who are using the Schindlers' blinding grief to promote their theocratic agenda to render such rights of self-determination virtually meaningless don't have that excuse.  That's why those of us (the vast majority, in my opinion) who don't want to lose our own rights of self-determination must steadfastly resist the soon-to-come "pressure" for Congress to enact legislation to provide "safeguards" for incapacitated persons similar to procedures that enable opponents of death sentences to delay implementation of court decisions for many, many years.  

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.



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Mar. 25, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire

Title:  Emotional Blindness Regarding Terri Schiavo.

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