So a federal district court has refused to grant an injunction ordering the restoration of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. The right of the federal court system to review the case followed a bill passed by Congress granting jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the various legal issues that surround Congress' ability to pass such legislation, I find myself alternatively at odds with the situation.
To begin with, despite the bald assertions of Senator Frisk, many "life affirming" Americans believe that is it nonetheless consistent to insist upon an individual right to a comfortable and dignified end. I know, because I am one of them. I regard life as unspeakably sacred; certainly I hold it in higher regard than those who advocate the unchecked execution of the criminally suspect or the jingoistic use of force of arms. Even so, principle demands that people be allowed to dispose of their final affairs and their final days in a manner befitting the life they have lead.
I find the presumptive arrogance of the Republican response repulsive. I think certainly at least some of their public outrage is little more than disengenious manipulation of the body politic, and much of the rest is pandering to that disturbing bloc of ascendent fundamentalists. The legal action of the federal government represents the imposition of one set of principles for another, in contravention of all theories of self-determination. So it is with some trouble that I must admit that their action, if not their motives, may in the end be correct. Despite the fact that I believe everyone has what may be described somewhat crassly as a "right to die", I find myself unable to find complete accord with the position of Mr. Schiavo. Certainly, were there any clear and undisputed indication of Mrs. Schiavo's intentions then I should have little difficulty in asserting a personal position. However, I feel that in the absence of a manifestly declarative statement, we ought to error on the side of caution.
Caution, however, does not necessarily dictate action. Mr. Schiavo, as I understand the situation, is the proper guardian of his wife, and accordingly holds both the authority over and the responsibility for her affairs. On his shoulders rests the momentous decision, and I would think this legal battle is doing little to alleviate what must be a most harrowing experience.