Monday, March 21

Schaivo Sham

Sometime's I just can't believe the nerve of some people.

Here you have a Congress and President that has the nerve to proclaim that it is "Pro-Life" by interveining heroically into a private issue between a husband, his wife and her family - yet this is the same Congress that just a short time ago voted to cut funding for the Veterans Administration and to the double the cost of prescription drugs for our wounded soldiers. It seems that they wish to preserve life at all costs, even if there is no discernable minimum level of quality to that life.

Terry Schaivo has already survived in a near-vegatative state for 15 years. She could continue to survive for another 15 , or thirty, or even 50 more years. She's still a young woman, who was just 25 when the accident that left her severely brain-damaged occured. All of that time, trapped within a shell of her own body and mind. A living hell. And our Congress is hell-bent that she endure as much of it as possible, regardless of her wishes as they have been expressed by her husband.

There is little evidence that as this case winds it's way through the appellate and federal courts that federal judges will discover a genuine and legal way to wrest Terry from the custodianship of her husband Michael. And if they did, wouldn't that set a terrifying precident? Imagine, if the case were argued that Michael has forfieted his rights as a husband by committing adultery, bigomy and abandonment by taking a second common-law wife and having two children with her - and the courts then decided that his expression of her will is to become secondary to her families will purely on that basis?

The problem with this scenario is that marriage is a state issue, not a federal or constitutional issue - at least not yet. If the case is argued as it has been so far, it's obvious that Michael will prevail and Terry's feeding tube will again be removed some months or years in the future. But if the case is argued as I have described, which is unlikely, you could very soon see a new federal definition of marrage appear through the courts. One that is exceeding different from what I suspect the Reich-Wing of the Republican party would endorse.

And this would be done in order to continue and prolong Terry Shaivo's sufferring. To continue her ongoing torture. Somehow I don't find that surprising coming from this Congress and this President. Much has been discussed concerning the Geneva Conventions in the last year, but surprising little has been said about the fact that torture is against U.S. Law.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > § 2340

§ 2340. Definitions

Release date: 2004-08-06

As used in this chapter—
(1) torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501 (2) of title 49.

§ 2340A. Torture

Release date: 2004-08-06

(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

I doubt quite seriously that this provision of Federal Law will come into play in this case (although many stranges things are still possible), just as I doubt that it will be enforced on anyone by a Justice Department as headed by Alberto Gonzales - but I do find it highly ironic that the U.S. Congress would expend this much energy on one person - on poor Terry Schaivo - and not one second on the many cases of real suffering that have been caused and exerbated by various U.S. Government policies in the last two years.

Don't you?

Here's a thought: if Congress and this President really want to do something to help the Terry Schaivo's of the world, they could authorize use of non-mouse-turd-tainted stem cells for research into regeneration of damaged brain tissue. How's that for "Pro-Life"!



Vyan said...

I'd been ignoring this story for a long time - then Congress went crazy and I could ignore it no more.

I think that "fear" has a lot ot do with many of the votes for this issue both from the Republican and Democratic side. And there are many things to be truly frightened about.

The Schiavo bill passed the Senate on the basis of "Unanimous Consent" with only THREE - count 'em - uno, dos, tres, but not CATORCE! - Three Senators present. Who knew passing laws was this easy? Just wait until everyone is out of town during a recess and slip it through the side door.

I think the Republicans have made a major mistake here, in that this case highlights their ongoing *ABUSE OF POWER-TRIP*. They just voted to cut $16 Billion dollars out of Medicaid and plan to put caps on Medical Malpractice suits. Well Terri's care costs are about $80,000 (I'm not sure if that's per month or week, but I think it's per week) - and they are being entirely funded by - guess what - Medicaid and a $700,000 Medical Malpractice award that was held in trust after a two successful suits were filed by her husband Michael. About three years ago the cost her Terri's care and various legal bills have exhausted that fund.

Supporters of the Schindlers have claimed that Terri has not received rehabilitation treatment. That is incorrect. For nearly four years following her collapse, both Michael and her Family attempted to have her rehabilitated. They've claimed that the family could take care of her - that is incorrect. Michael moved in with the rest of the family back in 1991 in order to try and provide her 24/7 care - and they couldn't hack it. It overwhelmed them.

They all, but primarily Michael, tried everything available to help Terri recover. Finally in 1998 Michael finally faced the futility of it all and first asked to have her feeding tube removed. 19 Judges and 24 Court decisions later where are here. The possibility of Terri's continued rehabilitation and allegations of Michael's desire to gain control of all of Terri's trust , and whether his claim of her desire to not remain in such a state was true based on not just his word, but other witnesses - were adjudicated in 2002. All issues were decided in Michael's favor. The case was rejected by the Florida Supreme Court as well as the U.S. Supreme Court - prior to the Congress and the President stepping in - Terri's case had already received more than it's fair share of due process.

The core danger to the "Right to Lifers" is this : If the courts and the American public come to a consensus that government should not intrude into personal and private matters of this type - issues of medicine, life and death - it would cut strongly in favor of continued support of the right of privacy, self-determination, Euthanasia and Roe V Wade.

Then again, if the issue cuts the other way - toward supporting life at all costs, the next issue on the table would be - at *WHAT* cost exactly? How much money are we as a country willing to put into supporting people in this type of situation - particularly when there are thousands of them - until for decades until the "natural" end of their lifespan? At what basic level of subsistance are we willing to accept for that price? The basic underlying philosophy here is the same as that which has driven the "Great Society" isn't it? People not only have a right to live - but a right to bare minimum *Quality* of life. If we're willing to do this for someone such as Mrs Schiavo, why not people such as Sun Hudson, the 6-month old who was taken off lifesupport just last week in Texas against the wishes of his mother, simply because the hospital determined that futher care was "Futile" and they had no method to provide payment?

If people have an absolute right to live - an ENTITLEMENT TO LIVE - they also have an inherent RIGHT to healthcare. Doesn't the position taken by the Repubs, to "err on the side of life" ultimately lead one to the Democratic position, of doing what you can to preserve *all* of our lives by protecting the environment, by implementing worker and consumer safety protections, by protecting the life and health of a mother going through a difficult pregnancy, by giving people the best available tools to provent the unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs?

I'm not saying we have to live with safety holes in the buckets to protect those who are too stupid to survive otherwise -- but either you care about people and the quality of their lives or you don't.

It's been clear to me for a long time that Repubs don't care about people - they only care about Power. Getting power and keeping it.


Vyan said...

Surprising practically no-one, the Federal Court has rejected the petition of the Schindlers against Michael and Terri Schiavo. Now it goes to the Federal Appeals Court - again - and is likely to have the exact same result. They will probably refuse to take on the case - however there is also a remote possibility that they may rule on the constitutionality of the "Palm Sunday Surpise".

Waiting with Baited Breath...