I've hesitated in wading in on this one, partly because I find it hard to get into high dower
over it. I have mixed thoughts and feelings to say the least.
As for the decision itself - I believe it belongs to her husband. Does it matter that he's started another life with another family. I don't think so. He's still her guardian. He could have gotten a divorce and walked away. If he's really such a cad, that would have been the thing to do. I think that he cares about her and really believes that he's doing what Terri would want.
Do I know any of this for sure? No. And neither does anyone else except Michael Schiavo.
And yet, my heart goes out to her family. They obviously passionately want to believe against hope that Terri is "still there". They want her back so badly that they see her in what are most likely involuntary, fleeting facial expressions. I can't imagine how bowel crushingly painful it must be for them.
Are the Shindlers right when they believe - a belief that has an eerie beauty, power and grace - that their daughter is fundamentally still a live person
I don't know. And neither does anyone else except possibly... just possibly Terri Schiavo. And, if she's still there, she can't tell us.
What a nightmare.
It's for shitty situations like this that we have laws and judges and all of the other folks in a system we hopefully seldom have to call upon. Folks, that system did it's job. Over 15 long years this tragic nightmare wound its way through many, many decisions. The law in this case (as I can tell as a layman) seems to be clear and in favor of Michael Schiavo having the right - as the closest person to his wife - to carry out what he firmly believes to be what she would have wanted.
Some of the most reasoned writing on this has come from a source I would never have expected... none other than John Derbyshire. Yes, man who Andrew Sullivan
dubbed a fount of "right-wing hyperbole, hate-speech and manic paranoia" had this
I don't feel at all easy about commenting on the Schiavo case. It is a horrible moral conundrum -- a whole concatenation of such, in fact. Parents vs. spouse, judges playing God, federalism, right to life, cruel and unusual.. Oh, Lord.
I wish I could share the clear conviction of some of my colleagues, but I just can't. I know my wife pretty well, and she knows me pretty well, and we both have a lot of sympathy for Michael Schiavo. It strikes me as a bit glib to just thump the table and say: "He wants his wife to die!" I don't find it hard to imagine circumstances in which I would want my wife to die, too; nor circumstances in which my wife would, I hope, do everything she could to have me die.
Michael Schiavo, as best I can judge, is Everyman. He has not behaved with high nobility; but then, very few of us do, certainly not for 15 years at a stretch. He seems to have done his best for a decent while, then given up in despair and turned back to his life, to the degree the situation and his conscience would let him. It's possible I've missed something, but I haven't seen any point in Michael Schiavo's trajectory this 15 years past where I couldn't all too easily see myself doing pretty much what he did. For all I can see, this is Ordinary Joe doing his imperfect and occasionally erroneous best with an appalling situation.
I think I have now read all the slanders against him, including the really lurid ones. All I can say about that is: If all the people who hate Michael Schiavo have, after all these years, not been able to persuade the authorities to charge him with anything, then the presumption of innocence seems to me a pretty good position to take.
I'll say this publicly to Michael Schiavo: Michael, if you are ever in Long Island for any reason, you're welcome to drop in at my house for a beer and a chat. By all means bring Jodi and the kids. National Review has my address.
Many of the rest of the usually reasonable pundits at The Corner (and in other venues) are frankly in a lather over this. I don't get it. It's interesting however that some of the most typically intemperate voices are approaching this with calm and reason... and vice versa.
What's left of Terri Schiavo will more than likely die in the next few days. And we'll all be joining her in a few (weeks, months, years, decades).
What's the take home message? Get a notarized living will... NOW.