In a reasonably sane world there would be no occasion to comment on the terrible tragedy of people like Terri Schiavo in a political context. Laws would be written in such a way that would enable people to pay, if they so choose, to keep alive close family members who are in a prolonged state of unconsciousness, in cases where no living will can be found. Conversely, no court would force anyone to assume the financial burden for artificial life support or feeding. In our ugly world of reality, however, it is the fate of Terri Schiavo to serve as the pawn of warring political factions. Some people are passionately concerned with the case, such as Phil Faranda, who notes that the Florida judge handling the case may be trying to cover up malfeasance. Others such as Glenn Reynolds have no particular opinion. In principle, I tend to agree with husband Michael Schiavo that Congress should not intrude upon his family's personal life. The facts of this particular case raise serious questions, however, and I find it annoying that we should have to scrutinize him in order to form an informed opinion. In my opinion, the fewer headlines and speeches that are made about these kinds of heart-wrenching family situations, the better.
Some people such as Laura Flanders (link via Connie) have noted that the Republicans in Congress may have ulterior political motives for convening in a special session to pass a bill enabling a federal court to hear the case. Obviously so (Rush Limbaugh candidly admitted as much today), but that does not necessarily mean there is not also a substantial degree of sincere ethical and/or religious belief motivating them. A fundamental principle of politics is that decisions and actions almost always embody some mixture of interests and values, and it is generally futile to argue that one is more important than the other, or why someone is "really" doing something. The fact that Rep. Tom DeLay took such a high profile position on this case, just as he has been getting bad press over alleged scandals in Texas, does not strike me as particularly sincere, however. Nor did I appreciate his remark that cutting off Terry's feeding tube was an act of "terrorism." (That label was ironic, as Randall Terry, a violent anti-abortion activist, was among those demonstrating in Florida.) I will give credit to President Bush for making a good point: In extremely delicate cases such as this, it is better to err on the side of life.