Schiavo spectacle

| Mon Mar. 21, 2005 1:06 PM EST

There's not much to say about the political firestorm over Terry Schiavo; it's sickening, and thoroughly depressing, but at this point it's about what you'd expect from the modern day GOP. What's that? Tom DeLay is under investigation for corruption? Never mind! He can always just use his bully pulpit to attack Michael Schiavo personally—a rather gross abuse of power, if you think about it. What's that? Gov. George W. Bush signed a Texas law in 1999 to "allow hospitals ... [to] discontinue life sustaining care, even if patient family members disagree"? Never mind! The Schiavo case is, um, different, and demands that president leave his ranch in Crawford and jet back to Washington. (Lindsay Beyerstein has much, much more.)

At any rate, for an extremely patient discussion of both the medical and ethical issues surrounding this case, see this post by hilzoy over at Obsidian Wings. By now, of course, there's really no sense in reasoning with the Schiavo fanatics—the whole goal here, after all, is to put on a gruesome little spectacle, and Republicans just want the chance to rally up the "base" with a bit of symbolism, since they have no intention of ever giving the Christian Right anything substantial (a ban on abortion, say, or an amendment against gay marriage). But read hilzoy's post anyway; it's important to note that this isn't about the "right to live" or other such nonsense, but about the right to refuse medical care. The latter right, if I'm not mistaken, is practically part of the Republican platform, so I'm not sure what the big deal is here.

UPDATE: Judd Legum has some poll numbers on this. Taking a family member off life support is a difficult issue, and one I've thankfully never had to go through, but it's safe to say that no choice will ever be free of pain or tragedy. Still, the whole point here is that the federal government should stay out of that decision. The overwhelming majority of Americans can see that—most people, it seems, would prefer not to have their comatose wife or son or mother trotted out before Congress for a big TV-focused political extravaganza. Though the cable news channels apparently think otherwise.

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