Since there was nothing else on television last night I learned a lot about Terri Schiavo, things I didn't know before.
It seems that Terri has received pretty sub-standard medical care these past 15 years, or perhaps a better way to say it is that her husband has PREVENTED Terri from receiving standard medical care.
Michael Schiavo has denied his wife physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, oral feedings, interaction with the outside world, even a PET scan, which would determine the extent, the severity, of her illness.
Three of Terri's nurses, former care providers, were all over CNN and Fox this morning, talking about the frequency with which Michael would quiz them about the condition his wife, asking "Is the bitch dead yet?" and "when is she going to die?"
Misinformation appears to be the operative word in this case. For years, I've taken it as the gospel truth that Terri was in a permanent vegetative state, but the truth is that she is responsive and alert to everyone she encounters. According to one of her former nurses, she was even speaking in 1996. I've also taken as fact the story Michael tells about how his wife became ill. Apparently she suffered from anorexia and that condition led to her having a heart attack.
But I learned last night that Terri didn't have a heart attack. According to Dr. Bill Hammesfahr, (a Nobel prize nominated physician) who has spent considerable time with her, Terri did not have a heart attack. He knows she didn't have a heart attack because no enzymes were present in her system. Apparently when a person has a heart attack, the heart releases enzymes into the rest of the body.
I wrote yesterday that I was undecided about what should happen to Terri Schiavo. What I did not write about yesterday was my disgust that the federal government and the President had injected themselves into this matter Sunday night. They called a vote and passed a law. Just like that. We've got border security problems in this country, we're at war with a guerrila enemy and three and a half years after 9/11 our elected officials are still dragging their feet in protecting the nation and her citizens. But they can pass a new law, in what, forty five minutes about Terri Shiavo? It all seemed like an intrusion on privacy and rather unnecessary.
That was yesterday. Today, after all the stuff I've heard (and continue to hear today) I've changed my opinion about this case. What is the harm in allowing this poor woman to continue living? Is she hurting anyone? Is she a danger to those around her? Is she preventing another person from receiving care? The answer is no. There is no reason to starve this woman to death. Her parents want to care for her. What's the harm in that?
President Bush, who signed this bill into law at 1.15 AM Monday in his underwear, said it best. "It is better to err on the side of life."
And of course this is political. What isn't? There are two sides and predictably, the sides are Democrat and Republican, blue and red.
Democrats in the House of Representatives were more vocal in their opposition, which makes sense when you consider the Democratic knee jerk position to abortion. In the Senate, where the bill passed on unaninimous consent 100-0, Democrats were at their passive, non-committal, core value-less best.
I believe that both sides are being consistent here. The Democrats, down the line, continue to choose and idealize a culture of death. The GOP continues to seek ways to craft and design a culture that encourages and fosters life.
Terri Schiavo has a constitutional right to life. It's time to put the tube back in and leave her alone.