One hesitates to trespass on the dynamics of another family. No one who has been spared the pain and expense of caring for someone in Schiavo's condition can possibly understand what all of the parties have gone through. But avoidance of pain is not the issue. The source and intrinsic value of all human life are the issues. If the government is allowed to order the death of one of its citizens when close relatives object and the patient's wishes are not spelled out in a legal document, how long will it be before government can order the death of other citizens for lesser reasons? If you think this an illogical conclusion, on what basis and by what standard could such lives be preserved after the precedent to take them is set and the moral argument is ceded?
The president of the Florida Senate, Jim King, a Republican from Jacksonville, said, "If we are going to err, then let us err on the side of caution." Since Roe vs. Wade removed all protection for the unborn, we have thrown caution about life and a lot of other things to the wind.
Government's first responsibility is to protect the lives of its citizens. There can be no argument that Terri Schiavo is a person under the law, though certain individuals and groups would like to reclassify people who do not measure up to their standards for human life, or who become too much of a burden on health-care providers and relatives.
The law gives all governors unrestricted power to stay executions, commute sentences and even pardon convicted felons. If the law can do that for the guilty, why shouldn't a governor have the power to preserve the lives of the innocent? Life is life, and all life is valuable, isn't it? Isn't it?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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