Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SCHIAVO CASE: Will Congressional meddling ever end?

The Detroit News reports that the federal judge in the Schiavo case who refused to reinsert a feeding tube did so because he's persuaded there's little chance the state court decision to let her die will be reversed.

If the case quickly goes up the appeals process ladder and the decision remains the same, will Congress finally stop meddling? A CNN/Gallup poll shows 60% of Americans favor removing Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube. ABC News polling shows almost 7 in 10 Americans think Congress should stay out of the case.

But can you imagine the religious right just giving up? And can you imagine a Republican administration and Congress who owes its domination to that group just letting this go?

Someone recently told me that democracy doesn't just mean that people are allowed to vote, but that the people on the losing side must be willing to live with results that are fairly decided.

The problem in this case is that the losers literally believe they are on the side of the angels and they want to impose their theology on all of us. Intoxicated with the heady brew of religious righteousness, they do not believe we are a nation of laws but instead want to see their god's law as the final word -- a word interpreted only by them.

Politicians who pander to these groups may well be tempted to act again before this sad drama draws to a close. An obvious medical crisis is that all Democrats seem to be suffering from laryngitis. Howard Dean should immediately challenge corporate medicine's hero Bill Frist for diagnosing Terri on the Senate floor just by viewing a carefully edited film clip the Schindler parents have made trying to show Terri responding to them. The only Dem with real guts so far is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who clearly stands for allowing the court decision to go forward.

Where do we go from here? Vigils and protests for sure. But Congressional action? Harassing the judges who make decisions that the religious right doesn't like? Are we going to see the fanaticism of the abortion issues extended to the right to die?

Unless we protect our civil rights, none of us will ever again have the right to die in peace.

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