Lent is supposed to be about examining your walk with the Lord; asking God to show you what you might need to repent of and how you can better serve him. Sometimes I avoid looking at certain issues because they upset me so much that but for the grace of God I might do something I would seriously regret. Even the extra discipline of Lent might not be enough to quench my anger. The Terri Schiavo case is one such issue (see Terri Schiavo: Who Crushes a Butterfly with a Hammer? at Allthings2all). Wittenberg Gate has Bloggers’ Best for Terri Schiavo, in which 40 bloggers best posts for Terri are featured.
Terri was supposed to have her feeding and hydration tube removed today at 1 pm. I heard there was a last minute, 24 hour emergency stay granted, so the drama will be reenacted tomorrow. Her husband wants her to die, claiming that is what she would have wanted. Her parents disagree and have been trying to get custody of her. At issue is whether or not she is in a comma (I think not), lucid (I think so), and capable of interacting with her surroundings (there appears to be tremendous anecdotal evidence that she can and does).
Terri has been like this since February, 1990. Her husband, who refuses to divorce her (the remainder of her $1.4 million medical malpractice insurance settlement would come to him), has had a live-in girl friend long enough to have two children by her. I personally believe the issue for Michael Schiavo is money, since he has been trying to get her euthanized for 11 years, refusing rehabilitative treatment, and generally doing anything he could to get it over with.
That would be sad enough on its own, but the real issue is how close he has come to getting away with this, despite the long suffering attempts of her parents to save her life. What does it say about us as a society that we allow a situation like this to happen at all? Not much I am afraid. However, now that the blogosphere has reached critical mass, there is a massive effort within the Christian blogging community to put public pressure on everyone involved, especially Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who could settle the issue, to take a stand for Terri.
As I look back on this, what has surprised me, now that I think about it, is how little has been done within the Christian Church to take a stand for Terri. This is not an issue of “personal choice”, the euphemism for abortion, where you have to cross a line into someone’s private life. This is expedient and assisted homicide, with the state giving her husband the legal hammer to break the fragile glass of her at-risk life. If there ever was a clear cut case for the Christian Church to take a proactive stand, this is it.
I bet if we collected enough money to balance the amount still left from the insurance to take care of Terri and offered it to Michael as a settlement, he would let her parents have her and divorce her. It wouldn’t be hard or even very sacrificial for Christians to step and redeem this woman who essentially is a slave to the death wish of her husband, much as Nehemiah stepped in and redeemed many of those working on rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. I wonder if that is even possible?
It is very frustrating for me to be so impotent in this matter. My wife says when I see a problem I want to “fix” it, but this appears to be beyond anything more than my outrage and comment. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:26 ” And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” Terri and her parents are suffering right now and we as Christians and as the Christian Church should be suffering along with them, not letting them slip into the backpage of our concerns. Maybe that is what God has for me learn from this, that I should not shy away from the demands of these kind of situations, just because they might get me angry or I might not be able to do anything about it. I can pray, and I can suffer with those who are suffering. You can too.
Update: For those of you who think what Michael Schivo is doing is at least humane, think again. He could not have chosen a more agonizing way to die. Here is an article from the Weekly Standard in which Wesley J. Smith explores the subject. Note the kickers from the experience of Kate Adamson, who had her feeding tube removed merely to help deal with a bowel obstruction but later recovered. Remember, she never even had to go to bitter end, nowhere near the 10-14 days it will take for Terri to die.
The agony of going without food was a constant pain that lasted not several hours like my operation did, but several days. You have to endure the physical pain and on top of that you have to endure the emotional pain. Your whole body cries out, “Feed me. I am alive and a person, don’t let me die, for God’s Sake! Somebody feed me.”
I craved anything to drink. Anything. I obsessively visualized drinking from a huge bottle of orange Gatorade. And I hate orange Gatorade. I did receive lemon flavored mouth swabs to alleviate dryness but they did nothing to slack my desperate thirst.
Update 3/31: Since so many search engines seem to drive people to t his post, I would like to add that several large financial offers have been made to Michael Shiavo to transfer custody of Terri to her parents, but he refused. In closing, I would suggest that you also visit the award winning CodeBlueBlog, as well as deal with the author’s $100,000 challenge to any neurologist/bioethicist) involved in Terri Schiavo’s case. The author of the blog is a radiologist with extensive experience in looking at CTs of patients like Terri.