[Paleopsych] Sobran Column --- Legal Fiction

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Sun Mar 27 23:56:16 UTC 2005

Legal Fiction

                           March 24, 2005

    [spacer.gif] Have conservative Republicans been inconsistent, even
    hypocritical, in seeking Federal intervention to save Terri Schiavo?
    [3]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.

More information about the paleopsych mailing list