Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON - The oddest charge among the many that found space in print and on airwaves was that the Terri Schiavo case was "political."

As Tucker Carlson noted facetiously on Chris Matthews' NBC show, "No! You mean you found politics in the body politic?" Or words to that effect.

What isn't political these days? That Terri Schiavo's sad life and court-sanctioned death became a political hockey puck in Washington is neither surprising given the circumstances nor justification for some of the outrage and finger-pointing among the ever-more virtuous.

Just because something is political doesn't mean it's wrong. Put another way, just because Pat Robertson - or even Randall Terry - believes something is true doesn't mean it isn't.

And just because some people may benefit politically (or not) doesn't always mean that those who participate in the debate are not also moved by moral conviction - in this case, whether the courts are right to allow a woman to die who is not otherwise terminally ill or dying.

Did some politicians seize the Terri Schiavo moment to advance their own careers and gird their base? Of course. Have others ignored the moment in order to protect their political rears? Yes, again, and a pox on all their houses.

But those considerations do not alter the fact that many others acted out of conscience. And that is wrong? We could have worse problems than politicians who take seriously the court-ordered death of an otherwise-healthy disabled citizen.

Heaven knows we pull out all stops to protect the rights of convicted murderers on death row. Surely a disabled woman facing elimination of nourishment (a.k.a. starvation) deserves as much consideration.

People in less civilized parts of the world would love to have our problems.

It has been (almost) amusing to note these past couple of weeks how the so-called "pro-life" movement has been demonized as somehow sinister, up to no good. Those wild-eyed pro-lifers, always carrying on about the sanctity of life. So emotional. So . so . retro.

I'm not one to pitch a tent on the National Mall myself - or slap red tape across my mouth, though some around the homestead might applaud such event - but I don't mind that others do. In an ideological toss-up, I also might secretly hope that retros passionate about protecting innocent life have longer limbs than those whose passions tend toward pulling the plug.

Setting aside for now the myriad legal issues raised by the Schiavo case, there remains the moral issue with which we are right to tussle. The simple fact is that Terri Schiavo would not die except for removal of her feeding tube.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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