Terri Schiavo is dead. She did not die a natural death, unless you believe a court order to cut off food and water to a disabled woman until she dies of starvation and thirst is natural.
No, Terri Schiavo was executed by the state of Florida. Her crime? She was so mentally disabled as to be unworthy of life in the judgment of Judge George Greer. The execution was carried out at Woodside Hospice. An autopsy will reveal that Terri's vital organs shut down for lack of food and water. She did not die of the brain damage she suffered 15 years ago. She was put to death. We have crossed a watershed in America.
Michael Schiavo's argument that Greer found compelling was that this is what Terri wanted and she had told him so, though Michael never mentioned this until eight years after she was disabled.
Did Terri, at 26, really tell the man to whom she swore lifelong fidelity to find a way to kill her if she became handicapped? Is that what she had in mind when they pledged to stand by each other "in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part"?
Was Terri that different from her mom, dad, brother and sister, who fought with all they had to keep her alive so they could take care of her for all the years she had left? Why, one wonders, did this severely handicapped woman fight for two weeks against the dying of the light?
America is a great country because she is good country, and if ever she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great, Alexis de Toqueville is quoted as saying. Are we that America today? Are we the same kind of people? Would the country we grew up in have done this to a disabled woman?
Hubert Humphrey, a passionate liberal, once said, "The moral test of government is how (it) treats those who are in the dawn of life ... those who are in the twilight of life ... and those who are in the shadows of life."
In America, three in 10 in the dawn of life never see the light of day. They are destroyed in the womb because their very existence embarrasses or would encumber their parents. In the twilight of life, we have begun to provide our elderly ill with the means of assisted suicide. In Europe, euthanasia has become involuntary in some nursing homes. In the shadows of life -- the sick, the needy, the handicapped -- there is now in this land we once called "God's country" a chance the state will put you to death.
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