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Mar. 31, 2005|
Everywhere we turn, people are talking about the bizarre life-and-death case that has been unfolding before us for the last few weeks. 41-year-old Terri Schiavo is being slowly and torturously killed through a government-sanctioned murder.
When her feeding tube was withdrawn at the court-supported behest of her “husband” (a.k.a. “guardian”), Michael Schiavo, Terri was a healthy, albeit profoundly disabled, young woman who was very much alive. At this writing she is, by some miracle, still alive after nearly two weeks of starvation and dehydration. The likelihood that she will last the week is very slim. And then she will be dead.
There are so many unanswered questions in connection with what has happened to Terri Schiavo.
The claim that Terri is in a “persistent vegetative state” has been contested by many medical authorities.
Yet, according to reports, she has never received the kind of tests and scans that would lead to a proper diagnosis of her condition. Tests using up-to-date medical technology to determine her true condition have been denied her. Why?
Why has Michael Schiavo been allowed to continue as her guardian when he has left his wife by cohabiting with another woman and fathering two children by her? Under these circumstances, how could Michael Schiavo have Terri’s best interest at heart? How is he granted any credibility when he says that Terri once told him she would not want to live in her current condition? Even if she did make a similar remark at age 20, she had no way of knowing she would suffer the injuries that caused her current disability.
Why hasn’t Michael Schiavo simply divorced Terri and allowed her parents to lovingly care for her as they have begged to do? What does he have to gain from Terri’s death?
What about the strange situation with Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, George Felos, an activist in the right-to-die movement? According to the Miami Herald (3/28/05), in 2002 Felos authored a book, Litigation as a Spiritual Practice, (Blue Dolphin Publishing) in which he says he once “soulspoke” to a woman in a persistent vegetative state. It was that woman’s right-to-die case that changed Florida law and made Felos Florida’s leading legal advocate on the right-to-die.
Shadow Road Consultations and Investigations, a small non-profit investigative group incorporated in Idaho that focuses on domestic violence and sexual abuse, intends to formally pursue criminal charges against both Mr. Schiavo and Mr. Felos, regardless of the outcome in the fight to save Terri Schiavo’s life.
Trimelda C. McDaniels, spokesman for Shadow Road, said in a March 29 news release that, in his book, “Felos clearly states that he hears voices in his head that tell him when someone wants to die this way. He is adamant about being used by God to help people out of their bodies into the next world by removal of feeding tubes and even ‘willing’them to die with his mind.”
Felos co-founded the National Legal Advisors Committee on Choice in Dying and, until 2002, George Felos was chairman of the board of directors at Florida Suncoast Hospice where Terri Schiavo is being held. Ms. McDaniels said that Felos’ “religious teachings and practices concerning feeding tubes and his former relationship with the hospice should be enough to disregard anything he or his client, Michael Schiavo have to say about ‘what Terri wanted.’” After all, she points out, Terri Schiavo is not a follower of Mr. Felos’ religion, but is a Roman Catholic.
Allegations of abuse have swirled around the Schiavo case in recent weeks. Ms. McDaniels said she thinks “there was enough evidence of abuse for the Department of Children and Family Services in Florida to step in and file motions to have Terri Schiavo’s case investigated.” “They have tried to examine her for abuse before and after her hospitalization. Judge Greer, the judicial power in this matter, has blocked them every time. He has also tried to stop the Justice Department and the United States Congress from being able to examine the bone scans and other evidence of abuse.” “We will do everything we can to see that justice is done. The only way to do that is to re-examine Mrs. Schiavo in person or after death for signs of physical abuse. Mr. Felos’ ‘voices’ need to be examined in the clear light of day. Therefore, we intend to offer Mr. Felos’ book as evidence for disbarment and arrest on charges of perjury and other legal matters to the Congress of the United States this coming week.”
In addition to all of the questions that arise with respect to the Terri Schiavo case, we have the very real problem of the breakdown in our system of government as it relates to the separation of powers. It’s plain that the courts are running the country. The United States Congress and the Florida Legislature, the President of the United States and the Governor of Florida, all of whom hold powers that could save Terri’s life, have failed to use them. Instead, they keep throwing her fate back into the hands of the judges who are exercising authority never intended by those who wrote the Constitution of the United States or the Florida Constitution, which clearly gives the Governor “supreme executive power.”
Barring action by the President or Governor Bush – or a miracle – Terri Schiavo will die while a nation watches in shocked horror. Most people did not know that a disabled person, who is healthy but unable to communicate, can legally be starved to death in this country.
This is not the America President Reagan described as the “shining city on a hill.” This is an America we do not know.
This is a time for prayer and for collective repentance. It is a time for awakening in the American people a new resolve to be better than we are, and to restore to this society, by every means available to a still-free people living in a constitutional republic, respect for innocent human life. We can do no less.
One of us may be next.
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