Cal  Thomas

Christians, especially, put themselves in the position of using politics and civil authority to force those who do not accept their religious premises and beliefs to behave as if they do. To achieve their objectives, would they be more effective laboring inside hospices for days, weeks, even years in support of the infirm, or do they best advance their cause outside hospices, performing for eager cameras and quote-takers?

This does not demean the substance of their pro-life argument, which I share, but it does suggest they may be employing inferior weapons - such as politics and the media - instead of superior ones, such as grace and selflessness.

It does not help their argument that some clerical and political leaders had e-mails and Web pages that directed people to links that afford them the opportunity to make contributions, not necessarily to Terri Schiavo, but to the "ministry" of her self-appointed defenders.

The biggest lesson from the Schiavo case - and it is one that must be sent to as many people as possible - is this: The courts are a mess and need to be reformed. Judges should be appointed who believe not only in the Constitution, but also that our rights are endowed from outside the state. Fundamental rights are not granted or denied by judges who create and eliminate them at will.

Had Terri Schiavo been pregnant and wanted to abort, her husband would have no legal say in the matter, but he has ultimate power over her life and death. Isn't it legally inconsistent that courts may no longer sentence 17-year-old killers to death, but Terri Schiavo, who has injured no one, has been sentenced to death by the courts?

Here is a political-moral-ethical question worthy of continued debate. That debate must not die with Terri Schiavo. If it goes on, she will have taught many a valuable lesson and her life will have made an important contribution to the nation and to others in the future who will share her condition, but not necessarily her fate.

Cal Thomas

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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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