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The murder of Terri Schiavo

By Doug Patton
web posted October 20, 2003

Imagine that you are physically incapacitated, unable to speak, to write a message or in any other way to communicate your thoughts, feelings or wishes. Imagine that you are incapable of feeding yourself, and must rely on tubes pumping nourishment and hydration into your body.

Picture what it would be like to be utterly dependent upon the kindness and mercy of others. Occasionally, the face of someone you loved – your mother, perhaps –comes into view. You attempt to smile, but you don't really know if it is registering with anyone.

A pretty shape – is that a balloon? – passes before your line of vision. You follow it with your eyes, your head turning as it goes by,

Then one day, someone tells you that you will be allowed to die unless you can communicate that you want to live. You lunge forward from your partial sitting position to let the world know that you are alive in here! You want to live!

But in the end, it doesn't matter. Suddenly, the people you love are no longer around. You are alone. You are uncomfortable. Is that thirst you feel? Hunger? Then, as morphine drips into your tubes to replace the life sustaining moisture and nourishment, you drift off into a euphoric state of semi-death, waiting for the end to come.

The priest who has ministered to you for the last 13 years is forbidden to give you communion as you lie on your deathbed. The reason? It would mean having to place something in your mouth, and that would constitute feeding, which is not allowed when the goal is court-ordered starvation.

Terri Schiavo
Schiavo

As I write this, Terri Schiavo is experiencing just such a fate, mandated by a Florida judge who says that her life is not worth living. A handful of doctors say she is in no pain. But these are the same "experts" who assure us that babies feel no pain when they are being scraped, pulled, poisoned and dismembered in the womb.

A dozen other doctors contend that Terri is not in a vegetative state, that with therapy, she could have at least a partial recovery. Her parents are willing to care for her for the rest of their lives.

But it doesn't matter, because her husband, Michael, his lawyer, George Felos, and the Florida court system want her dead.

Terri was a lovely 26-year-old in 1990 when she suddenly and mysteriously collapsed and fell into a persistent state of physical and mental semi-disability. She cannot speak nor feed herself, a condition her parents blame on years of neglect by a husband who spent his time and resources petitioning the courts to have her declared "vegetative" rather than getting her the therapy she so desperately needed.

So what is the agenda behind the murder of Terri Schiavo? Do we really have to ask? Michael Schiavo has been living with another woman for several years. They have a child together and another on the way. Lawyer George Felos is a well known "right to die" advocate. The two of them somehow have managed to manipulate the system, suppress vital evidence and convince a sympathetic judge to allow them to kill Terri.

Multiple questions surround this case. Why was Michael Schiavo allowed to keep his wife's medical records sealed for ten years? Why is his testimony concerning her wishes being accepted as credible? Was there abuse, as her parents claim? Unless Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intervenes, as the Florida Constitution clearly gives him authority to do, we may never know.

As Americans went about their business these last few days, Terri Schiavo lay struggling for her life. Will her death become a watershed event in the history of America, or just a footnote in the culture of death that has come to engulf our society?

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a political speechwriter and public policy advisor at the federal, state and local levels. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, and on www.GOPUSA.com, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor.He also writes for Talon News Service (www.TalonNews.com).Readers can e-mail him at dpatton@neonamp.com.

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