Debra J. Saunders

 If the law is going to give the benefit of the doubt to convicted killers, it makes sense to extend it to a woman whose only crime is that she is disabled.

  OK, I'll take a deep breath and break from the polemics. This is a complicated case, and people of good faith can disagree. This involves a heart-wrenching decision that no one would take lightly.

 Do I have problems with Congress passing a law for one person? Do I believe it is possible that Michael Schiavo, who did go to great lengths early on trying to help his wife, still has the best interests of Terri in mind? Do I want the government to stay out of end-of-life decisions that families are forced to make at a painful, raw time in their lives? Was I appalled when I heard Bob Schindler say on TV that he told his daughter, who is starving, he would "take her out for a little ride, get her some breakfast?" Yes, yes, yes and of course.

  I also don't enjoy watching the Schindlers' attorneys make silly legal claims in a desperate attempt to entice the federal court to change course, when it is clear to me that the courts, federal and state, are going to stick to their guns, as they have the power to do.

  But spare me the rhetoric about Republicans being hypocrites on states' rights -- fresh from the mouths of Democrats who don't want to let Alaskans drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, who don't want states to determine their own gun-control laws and couldn't wait for the feds to storm the home of the Miami family of Elian Gonzalez.

 Let me also say that Congress -- with Democratic votes, I'll add -- didn't pass a law requiring that the feeding tube be reinserted in Terri Schiavo. It passed a law handing the case on to federal courts.

 I'm no fan of Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas. But the House majority leader is right in this case. It's not clear Terri Schiavo would want to die. A husband does not -- in my book -- have an absolute right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment for his wife.

 I wish the courts had ruled in Terri Schiavo's favor, even as I accept the fact that they have not and likely will not. It is possible, after all, that Terri Schiavo wants to die. It's just too bad that she will die, regardless of whether she wanted to or not.

Debra J. Saunders

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