Terri Schiavo had her feeding tube removed on March 18. She has been in a persistent vegetative state for over 15 years.

The most important point of this drawn-out drama is that Terri requested that she never live a life in this state. This claim – made by her husband – has been recognized as her wish. Her husband, Michael, who should, by law, have legal control over the situation, requested that the feeding tube be removed from Terri once he realized that she would never come out of this state. Multiple physicians have testified that Terri will never be able to live without the feeding tube, and it is not disputed by any doctors.

Just when I thought the matter was resolved, when the feeding tube was removed, Congress decided they should get involved, as well. They recently passed a bill, mostly along party lines, that gives federal courts jurisdiction over this case. President George W. Bush signed this bill.

There are several parties responsible for Terri not having her wishes carried out. The first is her parents, who have brought many lawsuits to prevent the removal of the feeding tube. They have no legal say in what happens to their daughter, since she is married.

The second party is the Florida state legislature. They passed a law outlawing the removal of the tube, though the law was ruled unconstitutional by a judge.

And last is Congress, where Republicans decided that this was a matter of great importance that should be left to government control. On a side note, when I last checked, I thought Republicans stood for small government and less governmental interference in people’s personal lives. But I guess that rule doesn’t hold true when a personal agenda is at stake.

Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, want a share of the million-dollar lawsuit that she was awarded after doctors failed to detect the chemical imbalance that caused her condition. I’m not sure where they got the idea that they were entitled to this money, but they did ask about it shortly after the verdict was announced. They, of course, have no legal right to it – only her husband does.

Earlier this month, Bob and Mary asked for a divorce between Michael and Terri, even if after her death. Bob Schindler said that it is “quite obvious that [Michael’s] priorities are not in Terri’s best interest.” Being that Terri’s wish was not to be kept alive in this sort of state, it appears that Michael is carrying out her wish. It seems that Bob and Mary’s concern is more about the money than their daughter and her wishes. Recently, Terri’s parents have made sure that Michael Schiavo has come under scrutiny. It has come to light that Michael has a new relationship and family. Well, his wife hasn’t been able to communicate with anyone in over 15 years. I would say that justifies moving on.

Terri’s parents argue that this is the basis for getting a divorce between Terri and Michael. Conveniently, if that were the case, the parents would then have some more legal rights, including the money from the lawsuit. I am more than a little skeptical of their motives.

Equally responsible for Terri’s case is Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida state legislature. When a judge said that the feeding tube should be removed, Governor Bush pushed the Florida legislature into drafting a law that would allow the tube to stay in place. Additionally, the President of the Florida senate said that drafting that law was a mistake. But pursuing his personal agenda and wishes were far more important for Governor Jeb Bush than the law.

This should have been a straightforward case, but it was hijacked by people who were driven by their own personal motives instead of law. So, while Michael Schiavo is being criticized and scrutinized by the media and Terri’s parents, maybe we should really be looking at the other parties involved and their motives as well.

Daga can be reached at ndaga@campustimes.org.



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