1/21/2005

SCOTUS Mulls Schiavo Case

WorldNetDaily reports that the Supreme Court is meeting behind closed doors today to decide whether or not to take up the Terri Schiavo case. For those who don't know, Schiavo is the brain-disabled Florida woman whose right to live is at the center of an ongoing euthanasia battle in the Florida courts.

In a 27-page brief filed early last month, attorneys for Gov. Jeb Bush asked the nation’s nine top justices to review and eventually reverse the Florida Supreme Court's Sept. 23 ruling that struck down "Terri’s Law" as unconstitutional, arguing that the lower courts had denied the governor’s and Schiavo's federally protected rights to due process and equal protection.

The attorneys contend the governor was never allowed a "day in court" to defend his 11th-hour rescue of Schiavo from death by court-ordered starvation 15 months ago or the law the Legislature had passed authorizing his actions.

"[The state court's ruling] fails to allow for the governor and the legislature to afford protections that they deem necessary to provide for wards in this situation," said Ken Connor, Bush's lead attorney, during a teleconference held minutes before the papers were filed Dec. 1.
This case has been dragging on for years - the earliest CNN piece is from July of 2001 and by then the courts had been involved for over a year. Late last year, Terri's husband Michael indicated that he might be ready to give up his fight to have Terri's feeding tube removed, but still the case lumbers forward.

To me, the two most important aspects of the issue are:
  1. Terri's Wishes - Terri Schiavo left no living will or any other documentation indicating how she would want a situation like this to be handled. Michael Schiavo insists that she told him that she would not want to be kept alive artificially, but hearsay is a tenuous justification for killing someone.
  2. Rehabilitation - There have been doctors who have testified that Terri can never improve her quality of life, and there have been doctors who have testified that she could benefit from rehabilitative therapy. There does not appear to be a definitive answer one way or the other.
Therefore, it comes down to this: If we're not sure of someone's wishes, and we're not sure if they could benefit from therapy, we should choose to err on the side of life. We don't put criminals to death if they're "probably" guilty; we shouldn't starve a woman to death because she would "probably" want us to.

Note: WorldNetDaily is one of the few news outlets that's following this case with any regularity. CNN's last article on the case is over a month and a half old.

Update: Alarming News has a short bit on this with more on the way.