Last week, former U.S. President, George W. Bush released a memoir of his tenure in office called “Decision Points.” In this 500-plus page account, Bush revisits a number of official and personal events, as well as choices that shaped both his presidency and his attitudes in private life.
I was disappointed to learn that Bush’s actions in March of 2005—that led to the passage of Terri’s Law—were not a part of this account. On March 20, 2005 in what was called the Palm Sunday Compromise, Congress passed “Relief of the Parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo”—a law that gave the Federal court access to review of the case to dehydrate my sister, Terri Schiavo, to death. President Bush left his home in Texas—in the middle of the night—to return to Washington, D.C. in order to sign this bill into law.
Some would praise him as a pro-life hero and a friend to the disabled. Others sharply criticized him for involving himself in a state circuit case. Yet nearly all would remark that his actions were extraordinary and historic.
Why, then, has Bush not recounted that experience in his memoir? A friend has reasoned with me that Bush may have some regrets over the matter, or even embarrassment with how it was handled and eventually politicized by both politicians and the corporate media.
I tend to think there is something more at play. Indeed, no major media outlets or political pundits have revisited Terri’s case since her death in 2005. It’s almost as though a memorandum has been circulated warning those in positions of influence that Terri’s name is political poison, or that the notion of forced death died with Terri on that day in March.
Unfortunately, it did not. As we have seen through our work to protect the lives of disabled people, cases like Terri’s persist. They just simply aren’t getting the “face time” anymore.
People like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and so many others were tremendous supporters of Terri’s rights in the years we fought to protect her life. Now they’ve fallen silent on the issue, and it’s an issue that isn’t going away. It is most troublesome.
Care rationing and the act of denying profoundly disabled people ordinary care (such as food and hydration via feeding tubes, antibiotics, etc.) is as prevalent now as it was when Terri’s case was making its way through Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit. The reason you don’t hear about such things is clear: media leaders and public servants simply won’t talk about them.