Friday, October 31, 2003

Schiavo Case

Some days I'm embarrassed to be associated with conservatives, and the Schiavo case brings up one of those instances.

Terri Schiavo is the woman in a permanent vegetative state over whom the controversy is raging concerning whether or not she can be allowed to die.

It was never a question of whether or not Schiavo is aware of what's going on. It was never a case of whether her quality of life is good enough. It was never a case of what the family wanted, or what her husband wanted, or what the courts wanted, or what the public wanted. It all came down to just one question: What does she want?

Because the law has always found that all of us have the right to refuse medical treatment if we don't want it. And that includes even things like feeding and watering. We have that right, the right to refuse care, and no one should be allowed to take that away from us as long as that truely is our wish. We have that right without regard to what anyone else thinks of our quality of life.

I don't know of a more bedrock solid conservative principle that that -- the principle of personal sovereignty and autonomy.

Since she is not able to tell us what she wants herself we've got to rely on other people to tell us what she, as a person, wants based on what they know about her.

Schiavo's husband has been consistent for 13 years in saying that his wife never would have wanted to be kept alive this way. The courts have gone through hours and hours of deliberation and testimony, and the courts decided that it was indeed true that she would want to refuse treatment in this situation that she's in. Perhaps more than anything else, they agreed with that because it is such a reasonable decision.

You can argue now about whether it's appropriate for the husband to be "making this decision". You can smear him and claim that he's doing it for selfish reasons. But remember that he was never really relied upon by the courts to make any such decision. What he did was tell the doctors and the courts what he thought she wanted, and the courts decided that he was correct about that after carefully weighing all the facts including any facts that would indicate a conflict of interest on his part. The courts didn't decided this on a whim or out of a sense of guilt based on their own personal experience, but based on the facts of her life and after weighing a lot of other testimony from other people who knew her prior to her illness as well.

I suspect that her parents just can't stand to see her die. They have contested the idea that their daughter would want to die in this situation, but the courts have concluded that they are mistaken about that. More than anything it has become a contest of wills between them on one side and the husband and the courts on the other. They have fought for custody and lost, they have fought to overturn the court's decisions about her care and lost. So these parents have gone complaining to everyone who will listen.

And so now the idiot talk radio people and the idiots in the Florida legislature and that idiot Jeb Bush have waded into the matter and destroyed the results of what is probably hundreds of hours of careful and thoughtful deliberation made in good faith. They have taken it upon themselves to take any vestige of personal autonomy and dignity away from her. I can forgive radio jocks for being stupid enough to be caught up in this, but Bush and the Lesgislature ought to know better.

In a since it doesn't matter because they are not really dealing with a person in the body of this woman. I've seen a number of people in her situation, and, believe me, she's not really there anymore. There is not enough of a brain left to process any information. There is no perception. It's just a collection of reflexes. I don't care what people think they see on the videos. The lights are on, people, and their ain't nobody home. There's no quality of life there because there's really no life. There's no one there to feel pain or anything else.

If the Florida legislature wants to keep this vegetable alive out of a ghoulish desire to pander to faux populists and assuage their mistaken sense of morality, then fine. Fine, fine, fine.

I just hope to God that they don't treat me this way if I end up in her condition, with my pathetic, mindless body as their warm trophy.

He Told Us It Would Be Easy

...whine the Democrats.

The most recent lie from Democrats is that the President led the American public to believe that the post-war reconstruction of Iraq would be easy, he never anticipated these problems, and can only blame himself for not lowering expectations. This is what he actually said:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.

Then there's this:

The work ahead is demanding. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. It will be difficult to cultivate liberty and peace in the Middle East, after so many generations of strife. Yet, the security of our nation and the hope of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time.

That was February 26, before the war. This was on April 15:

Our victory in Iraq is certain, but it is not complete. Centralized power of the dictator has ended -- yet, in parts of Iraq, desperate and dangerous elements remain. Forces of our coalition will engage these enemies until they surrender or until they're destroyed. We have waged this war with determination and with clarity of purpose. And we will see it through until the job is done. As we press on to liberate every corner of Iraq, we are beginning the difficult work of helping Iraqis to build a free and stable country.

This was a day later:

American and coalition forces still face serious risks in Iraq. Scattered enemy is still capable of doing harm to our forces and to the innocent. But we'll stay focused. We will finish what we've begun. We will press on until our mission is finished and victory is complete… With all the hardships of this transition, the lives of the Iraqi people will be better than anything they have known for generations. The journey from a totalitarian, brutal dictatorship to a free society is not easy. It will take time to build the institutions of democracy and the habits of freedom.

And there is a lot more along these lines if anyone cares to look it up.

Party Line

A really excellent opinion piece in The New Republic about Democratic opposition to the reconstruction in Iraq, which, the author contends, is purely a manifestation of party politics and makes no sense at all either from the standpoint of national interests or the standpoint of basic Democratic/liberal party values.

He points out that the most recent contention on the part of the Democrats, that the Bush administration does not have a plan for the reconstruction, is simply a politically inspired lie:

Whatever its earlier blunders, the Bush administration now clearly does have a plan to reconstruct Iraq. Its aid request specifies in excruciating detail how the United States will rebuild different sectors of Iraqi society. And, on the day Edwards and Kerry voted no, the United States won U.N. backing for a plan under which Iraq will write a constitution and then hold elections in 2004. But that's the whole point: On one of the key national security votes of the post-September 11 era, policy barely mattered at all. And it's not likely to anytime soon.