[Paleopsych] Sobran Column --- Legal Fiction
checker at panix.com
Sun Mar 27 23:56:16 UTC 2005
March 24, 2005
[spacer.gif] Have conservative Republicans been inconsistent, even
hypocritical, in seeking Federal intervention to save Terri Schiavo?
Read Joe's columns the day he writes them. What about the
principles of states' rights and the sanctity of the family?
[spacer.gif] It's a striking departure from the causes they usually
espouse, all right; but they have the very human excuse of wanting
desperately to save a life. What is less excusable is that liberal
Democrats, with honorable exceptions, have just as suddenly embraced
the same principles, which they usually minimize and even mock.
[spacer.gif] Michael Schiavo wants his wife to die. He invokes the
sanctity of marriage to justify not only starving and dehydrating her,
but causing her parents the cruelest agony parents can suffer.
[spacer.gif] He says he is only trying to honor the promise he made to
Terri, that he would never prolong her life in such a condition. This
is a remarkable case of recovered memory, since it took him seven
years to remember this pledge. We are supposed to believe the subject
came up so early in their life together? How did they know Terri, and
not he, would be in this plight? Or did he exact a reciprocal pledge
from her at the time, never to prolong his life if he should be the
afflicted one? He hasn't said.
[spacer.gif] Even if Terri told him she wouldn't want to be kept alive
in a "persistent vegetative state," she could hardly have imagined the
specific difficulties that have come to pass in her case. We may doubt
that she'd want her parents to be tortured this way so that her
husband could "move on," as he so aptly puts it, from his marriage to
[Breaker quote: The tender mercies of Michael Schiavo] [spacer.gif]
What makes Michael Schiavo's story even more fishy is that the
sanctity of his alleged promise to Terri hasn't stopped him from
violating an even more basic promise: He has indeed "moved on" and
taken another woman, whom he calls his "fiancée," and by whom he
already has two children. Many men commit adultery, but few announce
their engagements to other women while still married to living wives.
This "fiancée" should take a close look at the man she intends to
[spacer.gif] How has it come about that Terri Schiavo's life is at the
mercy of the very man who wants her dead? The law presumes that a
husband has the best interests of his wife at heart. But the interests
of spouses may not be identical, but opposed. No woman's life should
depend on the good will of her enemy. After all, nobody who stands to
gain by an accused murderer's execution would be allowed to sit on his
[spacer.gif] This issue has been confused by legal abortion. A mother
is presumed to have the best interests of her child at heart; she can
hardly be impartial. But, in fact, many women, finding themselves
inconveniently pregnant, pay abortionists to solve what they see as
their problems. It's disingenuous to say, in such circumstances, that
the interests of mother and child are identical. The law now prefers
the interests of the mother, as she unilaterally defines them; the
child's interests don't count.
[spacer.gif] In the same way, Terri Schiavo (as of this moment) is a
problem for Michael Schiavo. He pretends that her interests and his
are identical, citing his alleged privileged knowledge of her wishes.
He is relying on the legal fiction, often useful but sometimes false,
that spouses want what is best for each other. Terri's death, a near
certainty since the courts have refused to save her, would be good for
her husband and his "fiancée"; but he also wants us to believe that it
would be good for Terri.
[spacer.gif] When a man is tried for murder, his interests are
protected and represented; he can have a lawyer to insist on his
rights. But there are no legal safeguards for the unborn child, or for
Terri Schiavo. They are at the mercy of those who want to get rid of
them. This is why the people who favor legal abortion, including
feminists, generally support Michael Schiavo; the people who oppose
legal abortion generally support Terri's right to live -- and in most
cases, the sanctity of marriage too.
[spacer.gif] Honoring Michael Schiavo's claim that he represents what
his wife wanted -- including her family's anguish -- is carrying a
legal fiction to the point of absurdity. Her fate should have been
left to those who love her.
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