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The Schiavo Debacle
By Pythagoras

This past weekend Tom Delay made a list ditch effort to save his political career, but alas, has only dug his grave deeper. Delay led a Republican push to extend the life of Terri Schiavo, the Floridian who is in what the court-ordered doctors describe as a “persistent vegetative state.” Delay went on air, evidently having done little research, and described Terri as being able to laugh and respond to her parent’s actions. He vilified her husband by saying that he has kept her “…from feeling the sun on her face.” All of this was to justify the Republican law that was pushed through the House, the Senate and signed by the President.

Then the facts began to dribble out.

Terri suffered a heart attack due to a chemical imbalance. Her brain suffocated from a lack of oxygen, and much of it is now liquefied. For the most part, her brain only consists of the portions that regulate breathing and her heart rate. Any responses she has are reflexive. She can not talk. She can not swallow.

There are no miracle cures that will allow her to re-grow a brain.

Her case has been litigated and re-litigated for 15 years and every court, judge or jury that has heard the case has sided with her husband, and Terri’s friends, who have testified that she did not want to be kept alive with tubes.

Still, the Republican Party fights on by enacting another law that will likely be deemed unconstitutional, much like the one Jeb Bush created a few years back. They have stomped on the rights of the Michael Schiavo and his wife. They have stampeded the rights of states, and have undermined the state’s judicial system.


Primarily, it is for wedge issues. The Republican Party needs, and forcibly seeks, issues that will divide the country, and the “right to life” has been a successful topic for them (much like gay marriage was for them in the previous election). After all, the republicans know that they need to divert attention from the vast majority of their policies as they overwhelming favor the rich and corporations. Poor people won’t willing vote to pay a larger portion of the tax burden, nor will they choose to breathe air or drink water that kills themselves and their children.

In order to get people to vote for these policies, the Republicans need emotional distractions and unfortunately for her and her husband, Terri Schiavo just happens to fit the bill.

Author’s Note: Tom Delay’s career is in jeopardy because he has repeatedly broke congressional ethic’s rules. He has accepted gifts from lobbyists, he has broken Texas law by misusing campaign contributions, and most severely in my book, he used the FAA to illegally track the movements of Texas Democrats. Also, it is important to note that many, many people have their feeding tubes removed every single day without becoming a Republican poster child.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

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The following comments are for "The Schiavo Debacle"
by Pythagoras

Good, direct, simple, and true. I can certainly understand why some people cling to hope in this case, but there comes a time when hope is just silly. Hope will not regrow a brain. Sad but true.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: March 23, 2005 )

*sigh* don't even get me started on those wedge issues. I do not dislike republicans; I dislike virulent republicans.
You'd be a good political writer in a magazine or newspaper, or are you already? Either way, this is a very clean piece.

( Posted by: shefallssoftly [Member] On: March 23, 2005 )

Pytha - Very clean
This was very well written. Thanks for taking the time to draft and post it.

"...who have testified that she did not want to be kept alive with tubes." I was not aware of this.


( Posted by: FeliciaStone [Member] On: March 23, 2005 )

I agree with you. The need her parents have to keep her alive is just guilt. They need to realize she is dead and get on with their lives. The governments intrusion has nothing to do with right to life just with furthering political aganda, and keeping the rest of us in the dark.

( Posted by: bhagwandave [Member] On: March 23, 2005 )

An opinion from personal experience, not intended
for debate. I do not wish to offend anyone and I do believe on both sides of this issue we all would like what is best for this woman, yet, still a humanbeing. As a nurse I cared for many
patients with brain damage from completly comatose to semiconciousness. I conclusively think at least she should be given water. From
experience, I took care of a young man that had hung himself, he was on a ventilator and with
tube feedings. At the onset of his care I discoverd he had hung himself over his girlfriend, his father and mother spoke and fought horribly around him, I asked his parents
to speak positively about everything and allow
the girl to visit. They did so, within 3days
he woke up, within 2weeks he was walking and off the ventilator and finally fully recoverd, he had been in a coma for 4 months, supposedly brain
dead, to put it simply. Another case...I cared for a young woman from the ER, she came in from
a horrible car wreak, her skull split from crown to chin, brain seeping from her nose and ears,
forehead, you name it, convulsing the whole time
in the ER, till controlled, then to surgery. She stayed in the hospital for 2months, I was also
a home health nurse and I took care of her at home, she reminded me of Terri, within 3months,
myself and the other nurses and family had her responding, I actually could positively communicate with her. I knew when she was in pain, hungry, wanted water and wanted her mother. I also witnessed "her" glee at the sight of music she liked, TV shows and family. I witnessed her cry with her mother as well. Tina
is still on a feeding tube, which is so simple to care for, she is wheelchair bound, and to myself a delight to still be in contact with.
I do not feel the least bit of pity for her,
for I beleive she does not pity herself, she's
different, but aren't we all? This is just 2
cases, of many, from the tiny babies to the elderly that have special needs, from my experiences only. I pray, what is best will be
done for Terri and all of us that may someday have special needs...Just an opinion from
humanbeing that is blessed with speech...
God Bless You, Terri Schiavo, on all your journeys...Robinbird

( Posted by: Robinbird [Member] On: March 24, 2005 )

Re: to Felicia &Robin
Felicia, I saw Michael Schiavo on TV and he alluded that he and her friends have testified that she had not wanted to be kept alive by machines...and has made other comments such as " tubes for me." I know that Scott and Joan Schiavo have both testified that they had heard her make these types of comments, but I can find no record of other "friends" so I am to assume that he was referring to his brother and sister.

Still 11 courts have heard this case and all have determined that it was her will to not be kept alive by machines. Fox News continues to muddy the water by reporting questionable claims such as the nurse, who made what the judge called questionable claims, that she heard Michael declare he wished that his wife would die. Her accusations were so ridiculous that her parents didn't ask her to testify on their behave....Too ridiculous for the parents...perfect for Fox News.

Robin, your stories are encouraging...but Terri has been in this condition for 15 years...her brain is liquified...and it was HER desire not to be kept alive by machines.

Currently, she is being kept alive to satisfy her parent's wishes, the republican's wishes, and the media's wishes...when will her wishes be met?


( Posted by: Pythagoras [Member] On: March 24, 2005 )

Schindlers' last
You said it better. Thank you.

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: March 24, 2005 )

It's too late now, but here's what I thought of this unfortunate event. First, the rule of law, which republicans should have backed more strongly (shame, shame), must be maintained. Second, I do not know the husband but I am not able to understand his motives for not simply giving her over to her parents for caretaking. Which leads to-- Third, her life ended today in a callous act of indifference, IMHO.

Now as to the opinion of this piece, I do think too much has been made of this by 'conservatives' but not for political reasons. I do not believe issues are made, I beleive they are found, and right to lifers found this issue because it touched their heart. Speaking of hearts, what happened to bleeding heart liberals? Aren't they the ones that defend the helpless? Haven't they passed numerous laws to change the rules to right a percieved injustice? I mean groups like PETA are willing to protect animals at all costs, why can't some conservatives have the same demand for human life?

So, in conclusion, I would want my life ended ASAP were I in that state (not by starvation-- a little more morphine please). Perhaps that's what she wanted to; I don't think we can ever know (word to the wise to make thier plans now, on paper). But that's no reason to undermine people's feelings on this by calling it political. I think it cheapens the debate by doing so, and I can only hope you remember what I'm saying next time you come to the writer's table.


BTW for Demeter-- Jeb Bush is on record this year as absolutely not going for the presidential run in '08. A shocker for me (R), but one which I respect. I hope you can find some respect for him too.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: March 27, 2005 )

re: Malthis
Malthis, I would first like to thank you for responding and sharing your viewpoint, even though you know I'm going to disagree. :)

Second, the reason the husband is not giving her over to the parents is the same reason I would not give my wife over to her parents were she in this condition: Because Michael Schiavo has stated that Terry didn't want to live in this condition....period.

Why else would he go through the hell his life is (death threats, etc.) if he wasn't trying to honor his wife and his wedding vows? Here's a question, the conservatives are supposed to be so pro-marriage and yet, here is a guy honoring his marriage by standing up to a bunch of religious nuts...risking his friggen ensure his wife's wishes are honored...and still, the conservatives vilify makes no sense.

As for liberals not respecting life, that is so off base its not funny. Again, it was her wishes to not live without a brain...she isn't alive in any real sense. She only has a brain stem...the rest of her brain is liquid...she is a breathing body...nothing more.

Why aren't conservatives this upset when Bush passes environmental laws that lead directly to the poisoning of our air and water? Why aren't conservatives upset when Bush pushes for legal protections for the asbestos companies? Why aren't conservatives upset when Bush makes it easier for hospitals to kill similar patients in Texas... and for that matter why aren't conservatives demanding that that rule be overturned? How come conservatives aren't upset when Bush hides hundreds of people (called ghosts) from human rights organizations? Why aren't conservatives upset when Bush changes mercury regulations ensuring that millions of people will be exposed to dangerous levels of this junk? Why are conservatives upset when Bush lures high schoolers to the frontlines by offering them $5000 dollars?

Jiminy Cricket...I could go on and on. But if you don't think that the conservatives did this whole Terry Schiavo thing for political reasons...well, your one of the few as most poll results show.

Here's a great quote from Laura Flanders about the Terry Schiavo stuff: The life of our GOP-ruled Congress; Political posturing for Christian voters; "Performing compassion" when the administration is "only-and-all about profits"; Tom Delay attempting to cover up his corruption; Diverting attention from Iraq; Sending Americans out to war to kill and be killed while making a spectacle of a brain-dead woman to promote the GOP "culture of life" facade. "Plastic pathos, sure, and for-profit compassion - there's plenty -- but, actual honest-to-your-god empathy? You tell me."


( Posted by: Pythagoras [Member] On: March 28, 2005 )

Well said
Very rational, to the point, and what? Even a bit poetic? It was well said.

As a Christian, as a woman, and as a grandmother, though it tears at my heart, I have to agree with the courts decision as far as they have taken it; though 18 short years ago I watched my mother die as Terri is, but not brain dead. Because she had progressive Parkinson's Disease, which debilitates the nerves and causes complete tremers, her life ended by being starved: not by court edict but by a man who had simply tired of taking care of her in his "golden years." I begged my father to permit me to hire a nurse, at my own expense, just to give her fluid, when she got to where she could not swallow on her own. He said, "Your Jesus didn't save her from Parkinson's (not true but I could not argue it with him at that time), so I'm letting her die a natural death." He refused to permit a nurse to hydrate her, so I watched her waste away from starvation and thirst until her lips and eyeballs cracked and the blood matted over her irises because her lids could not close! She left (spiritually) three days before her body ran down. That is tenacity to live! I can not forget the inhumanity of it, nor have I been able to forgive my father, though I understand his position. I made my husband promise me that if I should predecease him, he will not let my father near me! It was his legal right to deny her whatever, and I'd have lost is every court of the land, too, and I knew that.

But I'm fighting on another field against that same battle. Terri's situation is bringing a lot of it to light in every thinking household. My suggestion to this "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" is to legitimize euthanasia by very strict legal standards. I prefer to call it an "Opt Out" law. It goes the final step that does not currently exist in our "common humanity" legal edict in this country: Humanizing the law. It is said in the bible, "the Law was made for man, not man for the law." Life is precious: but not all of us want to live it to the natural end, for whatever reason. Nor should we have to! Jesus did not tarry in his dying, though what he went through was every bit agony! When he was ready to go, he said, "Father receive my spirit." and he opted out! We should not have to face starvation because we can not speak or swallow! That is beyond callous! Certainly it is inhumane! If our criminals can legally avoid it, most assuredly, our innocent and handicapped (of which I am one) should not have to endure it. It is the most "cruel and unusual" punishment I can think of. Let's band together to petition our legislators, while this is fresh on their minds (or agendas, as it may be) to push this final phase of humanity into law, for it reaches far beyond the parameters of law toward dignifying death. Even Jesus said that it is not the birth of a human that is to be celebrated, but the death, whereby we finally "go home" that is to be celebrated. Where is Terri's Celebration? Oh, that she could just opt out!

( Posted by: MaxiiJ [Member] On: March 30, 2005 )

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