Culture: February 2005 Archives

NOTE: Blogs for Terri has a fact sheet on Terri Schiavo's condition and the history of her legal situation. If you're just learning about Terri's situation, the fact sheet is the place to start.

If you think the title of this entry is too melodramatic, just read the order Judge Greer issued today (Adobe Reader required). Terri's parents had asked for an indefinite stay pending their appeal of his February 11 order, a hearing of their petition to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian, and their intention to seek review of the case by the U. S. Supreme Court. Although the judge has given Terri three more weeks to live, he has set a "date certain" and will no longer grant any more stays to prevent his execution order from being carried out. If Terri's parents want a stay, they'll have to make their case to an appeals court. From the order:

The Court is persuaded that no further hearing need be required but that a date and time certain should be established so tha tlast rites and other similar matters can be addressed in an orderly manner. Even though the Court will not issue another stay, the scheduling of a date certain for implementation of the February 11, 2000 ruling will give Respondents ample time to appeal this denial, similar in duration to previous short-time stays granted for that purpose. Therefore it is

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Motion for Emergency Stay filed on February 15, 2005, is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, MICHAEL SCHIAVO, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, THERESA SCHIAVO, at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2005.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers, at Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, at 2:50 p.m. this 25 day of February, 2005.

Note the language of that next to last paragraph -- "shall cause," not "may cause." Judge Greer has sentenced Terri Schiavo to be starved to death for the crime of being unable to feed herself.

It is good news that the judge has granted three more weeks. Keep praying.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Grogan has had second thoughts about Terri's situation. Although he still believes that Terri lacks awareness, he points out that Terri is not dying and is not comatose. He also mentions that allegations of physical trauma causing Terri's condition haven't been fully investigated, and that her parents believe she could swallow again with therapy:

An AP story, found via Drudge:

In an investigation conducted secretly for months, the Kansas attorney general is demanding that clinics turn over the complete medical records of nearly 90 women and girls who had abortions.

Two abortion clinics are fighting the request in Kansas Supreme Court, saying the state has no right to such personal information. But Attorney General Phill Kline insisted Thursday he is simply enforcing state law.

"I have the duty to investigate and prosecute child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children," Kline, an abortion opponent, said at a news conference.

Kline is seeking the records of girls who had abortions and women who received late-term abortions.

Sex involving someone under 16 is illegal in Kansas, and it is illegal in the state for doctors to perform an abortions after 22 weeks unless there is reason to believe it is needed to protect the mother's health.

So Kansas may see men held accountable for exploiting young teenage girls, and abortionists held accountable for killing babies that had reached viability. A salute to Phill Kline for having the guts to enforce the law in the interests of protecting the innocent.

A further reprieve


It appears that Florida Governor Jeb Bush has found a way to intervene on behalf of Terri Schiavo and stave off her husband's attempts to starve her to death.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has filed a brief with Circuit Judge George Greer. The judge didn't allow a DCF attorney to speak during today's hearing, and DCF isn't saying what's in their filing, which is sealed, but the lawyers for Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents both said it had to do with allegations that Michael Schiavo abused Terri. This goes to the question of whether he is fit to act as her guardian and to make decisions about her care.

Judge Greer extended his stay until Friday at 5, and said he'd be considering whether to allow further tests to determine the level of Terri's awareness.

My friend Dave Russ sent along the official summary of HB 701, a bill that will help Terri and other similarly afflicted people:

Withholding or Withdrawal of Nutrition or Hydration from Incompetent Persons: Declares that an incompetent person is presumed to have directed health care providers to provide the necessary nutrition and hydration to sustain life; prohibits a court, proxy, or surrogate from withholding or withdrawing nutrition or hydration except under specified circumstances; provides that the presumption to provide nutrition and hydration is inapplicable under certain circumstances; conforms provisions to changes made by the act; declares that the act supersedes existing court orders otherwise applicable on or after the effective date of the act.

Effective Date: upon becoming law.

Florida readers, contact your legislators and urge them to move this bill along. Here's the committee that currently has the bill. Here's a link to the bill's status. And everyone, keep praying, especially for Judge Greer.

A commenter called MikeC, writing in response to a post on, of all places, the humor blog IMAO, proposes a common-sense approach to the ethics of Terri Schiavo's situation. The concept is brilliant, although his explanation isn't as clear as I'd like, so I'm going to paraphrase it:

Look at the two parties in this case -- Terri's husband and Terri's parents -- and the result each party is seeking. Then ask, for each party, what are the consequences of getting it wrong, if the judge grants their request.

What if Michael Schiavo succeeds in removing the feeding tube, but is wrong in his claim that Terri is a vegetable? A thinking, feeling woman will die a slow and painful death from starvation and dehydration.

What if the Schindlers succeed in taking over Terri's care, but are wrong in thinking that there is hope for rehabilitation? As MikeC put it, "they get to pay a bunch of medical bills and live with false hope." Terri, if she truly is PVS, isn't going to know or care.

If the judge decides for the husband and he's wrong, the consequences are cruel and irreversable. Terri will pay the ultimate price for her husband's error. If the judge decides for the Schindlers and they're wrong, the Schindlers will toil in vain, but they alone will bear the consequences.

Terri's not the only one

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WriteWingBlog has links to several testimonies from people who have first-hand experience with acute rehabilitiation or with a misdiagnosis of PVS. Hyscience's Richard has a moving story to tell, and you can understand why Terri's situation matters so much to him. And Rus Cooper-Dowda's story is amazing -- like something out of Kafka -- you must read it:

In February of 1985, I woke up in a hospital bed in Boston, MA. I couldn't see very well and I couldn't move much -- but boy could I ever hear!

I heard a terrifying discussion then that I will never, ever forget.

Around the end of my bed were a "school" of doctors in their white coats, planning when to disconnect my ventilator and feeding tube. I immediately started screaming, "I'm here!!" No one but me heard me.

They did notice my sudden agitation. They heavily sedated me. For a time, everytime I woke up I would make as much noise and move as a much as I could to show them I was "in there."

And they would, in response, heavily sedate me...

I then started spelling the same word in the air, "Don't! Don't! Don't!...."

The doctors decided that the letters I was spelling in the air were repetitive seizure activity and just happened to occur most often when they were in my room discussing killing me...I even took to writing them backwards to make it easy for them to read...

I was using Technorati to see what bloggers are saying about the Tulsa World's threats against BatesLine. Chellee of Telling Deeds posted an entry calling the World's missive "wonderfully fascist" and praising Joel Helbling's wonderful parody of it.

What caught my attention was this comment from "Apathy Bear":

Yeah, I just checked out this guy's site. His blogroll's got some interesting links. "Club for growth" is not a good sign... Also, the guy's name-dropping people like Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin. Malkin, for example, is an apologist for the Japanese internment of WWII. On the surface, Bate's claims appear legit; I have my reservations, however. I'll look into it some more. Something tells me that we're not getting the whole story from Mr. Bates.

Be sure to check out his take on the Terri Schiavo deal. I'm smelling the unpleasent reek of fundy mindrot here...

For the most part, left-leaning bloggers who've commented on the World's threats have focused on the copyright issue. They recognize that the matter affects every blogger, regardless of your ideology. So this comment shouldn't be taken as typical, but it is revealing of a certain mindset. He appears to have reservations about my credibility, reservations which are based entirely on his finding that I have conservative bloggers and organizations on my blogroll. It's as if he were saying, "I'd believe him if he were a Daily Kos reader, but Club for Growth supporters are shifty and dissembling." It really is another form of the World's blindness -- the idea that anyone with a different perspective must be stupid, unbalanced, or disingenuous.

And what about my "take" on Terri Schiavo is evidence of "fundy mindrot"? If "fundy" means someone who believes in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, I plead guilty, but it doesn't seem to have eroded my mental ability enough to keep me out of MIT or Phi Beta Kappa or to stop me from writing software for the last 25 years.

Anyway, what's "fundy" about believing that you shouldn't kill a human being by depriving her of food and water? I'd hope every one would agree with that.

Chellee's reply was quite decent:

I saw that the site has definite conservative ties. I'm not one to defend conservatives, except when it comes to constitutional issues. I believe in freedom of speech, and threatening someone in the name of copyright to shut them up doesn't sit well with me.

Terri Schiavo update

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Judge Greer issued a temporary stay until 5:00 p.m. Wednesday. Terri's parents are seeking the opportunity to have new neurological tests performed, taking advantage of recent advances to determine her level of awareness. Greer will hear their request Wednesday at 2:45.

The effort to raise money for an ad in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times to raise public awareness is nearing its goal. You can contribute here.

There's a video I haven't seen before, showing Terri responding with laughter and other vocalizations as her dad reminisces about how, when she was a girl, she would upset her mom by letting her lazy eye turn in. If you believe that Terri is comatose or in a persistent vegetative state, you need to watch this minute long video. And if you won't watch it, ask yourself -- are you just afraid of changing your mind?

I've seen an increasing number of references to a website that has the trial court's determination of Terri's condition. But it's the trial court's findings that are at issue -- suppression of evidence, ignoring evidence. Judge Greer's findings of a persistent vegetative state don't line up with the videos and the testimony of caregivers about Terri's responsiveness and vocabulary. As I understand it, even if Judge Greer had some hidden conflict or bias that is coloring his judgment in this case, his findings of fact wouldn't be overturned, as long as he follows proper procedure. We need to pray that he will have a change of heart or that he'll be removed from the case. The videos don't show someone who has constantly been in a PVS for 15 years. Doesn't Terri deserve a judge who will give her the benefit of the doubt?

Here's a list of e-mail addresses for submitting letters to Florida newspapers. And there's a link to an example letter.

More in later entries.

Another execution of the innocent


PiratePundit has some original reporting on a Texas case in which a hospital wants to stop treatment of an infant with a genetic disorder and to evict him from the hospital, despite his mother's wishes that treatment continue.

In Texas, a baby has been in effect sentenced to die. He is hospitalized with a disease called thanatophoric dysplasia. A website devoted to genetic disorders says that “Infants with this condition are usually stillborn or die shortly after birth from respiratory failure; however, some children have survived into childhood with a lot of medical help.” The child in question, Sun Hudson, is four months old and has obviously survived the danger of stillbirth and has not died shortly after birth. Sun’s mother wants him to live. Doctors at the hospital where Sun was born no longer want to supply him with the “lot of medical help” he needs, and plan to shut off his oxygen supply.

PiratePundit interviewed the mother's attorney and writes that this story is not about money (the patient is covered by Medicaid), not about an untreatable condition (the hospital boasts on its website about the resources of its genetics clinic for dealing with such conditions), and it's not about pro-life politics (the attorney isn't a pro-lifer and points out that Sun Hudson has already been born).

This is about one judge who has by any objective standard allowed no due process to the child who may soon be killed or to the child’s mother. Attorney Caballero subpoenaed hospital records of Medicaid payments for the child’s treatment. The judge quashed the subpoena (meaning that he voided it) and refused to allow the mother to view those hospital records. Caballero subpoenaed the person in charge of records who could testify about the medical bills and payment. Judge McColloch quashed that subpoena. Instead, the judge ruled that the mother, in seeking to save her child’s life from a deliberate cessation of medical treatment, had “no cause of action”. The judge made that ruling based only on the petitions filed, not allowing the mother’s attorney to conduct any discovery under the normal rules of court procedure. ...

Finally before the probate court, the mother was not given the opportunity to call any witnesses or present any evidence in an evidentiary hearing. Instead, the judge ruled that the hospital may discontinue treatment of the child, based on facts not even alleged by the hospital, specifically that the judge believed the child was suffering “significant pain.” According to Caballero, when he asked how the judge had reached that finding of fact without ever having heard any testimony or conducting a hearing on the merits of the case, the judge replied, on the record, that he “probably got it from the newspaper.” Having visited the baby in the hospital, Caballero flatly denies that the child is in pain. After reflection, Caballero asked Judge McColloch to recuse himself from the case. McColloch refused.

So this poor baby is stuck with a judge that doesn't seem interested in the facts. As I understand it, the appeals court will defer to the judge as the trier of fact, as long as he made no procedural errors. This is the same problem that Terri Schiavo faces -- you may have an unjust judge who suppresses important evidence, but you're stuck with him and his rulings as long as he follows procedure.

Hat tip to the Dalek Weblog, which I found because they also have an entry about the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine: "Is Tulsa the new Bunker Hill?"

On death row

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The judge has denied all stays of execution, and it may be beyond the Governor's powers to grant clemency. Today at 1 p.m. Eastern time, the attorney of Terri Schiavo's estranged husband will order the removal of Terri's feeding tube and allow her to starve to death in a Clearwater, Florida, hospice.

There are still things that can be done to try to save her from that fate:

Here's what we need to do in order of priority:

1. Support (give and get readers to give) to place the [St. Petersburg Times] ad.
2. Email and telephone support HB701
3. Deluge Jeb Bush [Jeb Bush,, 850 / 488-4441, 850 / 487-0801 (fax)]
4. Deluge President Bush
5. Blog like crazy to keep the information circulating.

The purpose of the ad, which would go in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, is to break through the mainstream media and get the attention of Tampa area residents to hear the facts about Terri's condition.

I'll be making some phone calls to Tallahassee in the morning to the governor and legislators. I hope you will, too.

And if you're still not sure if Terri ought to be allowed to live, if you still buy the idea that Terri is comatose or in a "persistent vegetative state," please click here and see for yourself.

This item is from the satirical news blog ScrappleFace:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has, at least temporarily, saved the life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the Florida woman whose former husband, Michael, had planned to disconnect her feeding tube on Tuesday.

The 11th-hour reprieve came in response to a plea from the Schindler family to have Terri classified as a silver rice rat (Oryzomys argentatus), considered an endangered species by the state of Florida and the USFWS. ...

"If we can apply to get Terri classified as a different endangered species each month, we can give her several more years of life," Mr. Terry said. "I know it sounds dehumanizing, but under our laws a rat has more of a right to life than this woman."

Go read the whole thing.

(You've got to love a humor blogger who includes Calvin's Institutes and the works of B. B. Warfield in the list of Amazon recommendations on his home page.)

Dawn Eden has an entry about Planned Parenthood's objection to a Bush administration requirement that organizations must explicitly oppose prostitution in order to qualify for global AIDS funds. Not too surprising that PP would object to any policy aimed at encouraging sexual restraint.

What I found really shocking was something mentioned in a quote from an article by Population Research Institute president Steven Mosher:

"While USAID is not perfect," Mosher writes, "many in the agency would have difficulty accepting the notion, bruited about by both [the World Health Organization] and [International Planned Parenthood Federation], that abortion ('termination of pregnancy') should be used to prevent the spread of AIDS. After all, half of all babies born to HIV-positive mothers do not have the disease. As for the half that do, their plight does not justify killing them in utero, any more than it would justify killing them after birth. The position of WHO and IPPF that the spread of AIDS can be checked by abortion is no less reprehensible as saying that abortion should be used as a means of population control�an idea that many nations have forcefully rejected as genocidal."

Read that a couple of times, and let it sink in: The World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation advocate killing the babies of HIV-positive mothers because there is a chance that the babies might be HIV-positive. Forget about the success in Uganda and elsewhere of programs that encourage abstinence and fidelity. The abstinence approach for containing AIDS is no good for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood's approach means plenty of victims to offer to their god, not to mention plenty of funding to "process" all the victims.

And, good grief -- the WHO is supposed to be in the business of preventing deaths caused by infectious disease -- encouraging immunization, developing safe supplies of drinking water, improving sanitation and nutrition. This approach to AIDS prevention is like preventing the spread of chicken pox by pumping Zyklon B into kindergarten classrooms.

US taxpayers have already donated over a billion dollars to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The Gates Foundation has given $150 million.

Here's one paper from the WHO website that advocates abortion as a way to "prevent" mother to child HIV transmission: "Anti-Retroviral Regimens for the Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV-1 Transmission: the Programmatic Implications." I'm sure there's more documentation to be found. Dumpster-divers, on your springboards!

Next week, a Florida hospice may stop giving food and water to a young woman who, because of injuries to her brain suffered 15 years ago, cannot feed herself. They will let her starve to death, because her husband wants her dead, and because a judge will tell them that it is OK to starve her, because her husband says so.

I say "young" -- she's my age, 41. Her name is Terri Schiavo. You have probably read about her in the news or heard about her on TV, but what you have read and heard is probably wrong.

Terri Schiavo is not comatose, nor is she in a "persistent vegetative state". She is awake, and she responds and interacts with those around her, although her ability to express herself and to interact is limited by her injury.

Terri Schiavo is not on life support. She is not on a ventilator, a heart machine, or dialysis. Her autonomous bodily functions all work without assistance.

Terri Schiavo does not have a terminal illness. She doesn't need anything more than you or I do to keep on living. She just needs help getting food and water in her.

Terri Schiavo is not a burden to her husband; at least she need not be. Her parents made a very generous offer that would keep him financially whole and allow him to "move on," if only he would commit her to their care. He rejected the offer. He just wants her dead.

Because of her injuries, Terri cannot speak and she cannot feed herself, but it's possible that some of that ability could be restored with proper therapy, creating new pathways in the brain to replace those that were damaged. That seems to have happened for Sarah Scantlin, a Kansas woman with similar limitations, who began speaking again last month after being unable to speak for 20 years. Sarah had a nurse working with her to encourage her to try to speak. Terri has been denied access to therapy by her husband, who simply wants her dead.

I have had nightmares -- maybe you have, too -- where I find myself in a dangerous situation and I try to shout for help, but I can't. For all my exertion, no sound comes out of my mouth.

Imagine that situation in real life. You are completely aware of your surroundings, but for some reason are unable to move, unable to speak. You are hungry and thirsty, but no one is coming to feed you, and you have no way of summoning help. You are as helpless as a baby, more helpless really, because Mama isn't coming to see what's wrong. She would if she could, but Mama isn't being allowed to come and help, and you are fully aware of this.

We don't know Terri's degree of awareness, although the videos of her reactions to her parents and other loved ones makes it apparent that she is aware. We learned recently that some brain-injured patients who appear oblivious to their surroundings are in fact hearing and understanding what's happening around them. Brain imaging revealed the same sort of activity in these patients' brains as in a healthy person's brain when the patient was listening to a loved one recount memories of shared experiences. The same sort of test could reveal Terri's degree of awareness, if only her husband would permit it.

Someday it could be you -- fully aware but unable to communicate. Wouldn't you want someone to speak out on your behalf if they tried to starve you, to cause you to suffer a prolonged and agonizing death?

You can speak out for Terri and others like her. If you're from Florida, contact your state legislators and urge them to expedite passage of HB701, the Florida Starvation and Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act. If you're not from Florida, you can help, too: pray, urge friends and family in Florida to act, and correct misstatements about Terri's condition in your local media.

You'll find much more information and points for action on and

Blogs for Terri


Over on the right side of the home page, I've posted the blogroll for the Terri Schiavo blogburst, an effort to use the blogosphere to rally support for her plight and pressure on those who could act to stop her from being deprived of food and water, which is scheduled to happen on February 22, just five days away. Click here at Hyscience to find out how you can join the effort.

Wittenberg Gate is sponsoring a bloggers' round up, collecting the best blog entries about Terri's situation and posting them on Sunday.

Hyscience also links to an affidavit from one of Terri's nurses in 1997 about Terri's responsiveness and commission at that time. If she had received adequate physical therapy, who knows how much she may have improved.

A remarkable story from Hutchinson, Kansas:

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her — the victim of a drunken driver who struck her down as she walked to her car. Today, after a remarkable recovery, she can talk again.

Scantlin's father knows she will never fully recover, but her newfound ability to speak and her returning memories have given him his daughter back. For years, she could only blink her eyes — one blink for "no," two blinks for "yes" — to respond to questions that no one knew for sure she understood.

"I am astonished how primal communication is. It is a key element of humanity," Jim Scantlin said, blinking back tears.

Sarah Scantlin was an 18-year-old college freshman on Sept. 22, 1984, when she was hit by a drunk driver as she walked to her car after celebrating with friends at a teen club. That week, she had been hired at an upscale clothing store and won a spot on the drill team at Hutchinson Community College.

After two decades of silence, she began talking last month. Doctors are not sure why. On Saturday, Scantlin's parents hosted an open house at her nursing home to introduce her to friends, family members and reporters.

This is a remarkable story, coming at a time that a judge in Florida is ready to allow Terri Schiavo to die of starvation and dehydration, simply for being in the same condition that Sarah Scantlin was in a month ago.

Scantlin still suffers constantly from the effects of the accident. She habitually crosses her arms across her chest, her fists clenched under her chin. Her legs constantly spasm and thrash. Her right foot is so twisted it is almost reversed. Her neck muscles are so constricted she cannot swallow to eat.

Note that last problem. The story doesn't say, perhaps doesn't say on purpose, but if she cannot swallow to eat, she must be getting tube feedings, same as Terri Schiavo. No one seems to consider that "artificial life support" in this case. Maybe that's because, in this case, her caregivers actually love her and want the best for her. The story mentions that Sarah Scantlin began to speak again because someone was trying to encourage her to speak:

The breakthrough came when the nursing home's activity director, Pat Rincon, was working with Scantlin and a small group of other patients, trying to get them to speak.

Rincon had her back to Scantlin while she worked with another resident. She had just gotten that resident to reply "OK," when she suddenly heard Sarah behind her also repeat the words: "OK. OK."

Quite a contrast from Terri Schiavo's situation -- her husband has kept her away from every opportunity for rehabilitation.

Let's go back to the lead sentence of the article for a moment: "For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin has been mostly oblivious to the world around her." How in the world do they know that? Just because she was unable to speak -- "locked in" -- evidently without the motor skills to speak or communicate beyond eye blinks doesn't mean she was unable to take in everything around her. Let me point you to a story in last Tuesday's New York Times:

Thousands of brain-damaged people who are treated as if they are almost completely unaware may in fact hear and register what is going on around them but be unable to respond, a new brain-imaging study suggests. ...

"This study gave me goose bumps, because it shows this possibility of this profound isolation, that these people are there, that they've been there all along, even though we've been treating them as if they're not," said Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the medical ethics division of New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Fins was not involved in the study but collaborates with its authors on other projects.

Fascinating that last week's study and this news should emerge as Terri Schiavo's life hangs in the balance. It's as if Someone is trying to send a message.

Hat tip: Catholic Ragemonkey.

Here's what other blogs are saying about this story, according to Technorati.

Pro-marriage rally today in New York


Be in prayer, too, for a pro-marriage rally today at City Hall Park in New York City, a protest of a New York judge's decision that same-sex marriage is required by the state's constitution. Radio talk show host Kevin McCullough is one of the instigators of the rally. After the rally, Kevin will be talking about it on his show, which you can listen to live on the web, beginning at noon Central Time, and in continual repeats for the next 24 hours.

Some people object to applying the label "pro-abortion" to anyone. "Pro-choice" is preferred, "pro-abortion-rights" is acceptable, but even the head of the local Planned Parenthood chapter back in Tulsa told me with a straight face that she considers herself "pro-life." All she and her allies want is to ensure that abortion is, in the words of Slick Willie, "safe, legal, and rare."

If no one is really pro-abortion, then why do abortion clinics get a special exemption from rules that apply in every other surgical environment? Dawn Eden calls attention to a letter from Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (a Republican) about the failure of his abortion safety bill, which was "passed by indefinitely" in the Senate Health and Education Committee by a 9-6 vote. Cuccinelli begins his letter with the story that moved him to propose the bill:

Please imagine a young woman who goes into a surgeon's office to have a simple procedure performed. The surgeon performs the procedure, but punctures a large blood vessel during the surgery, causing the young woman to lose a significant amount of blood. Perhaps the surgeon is not aware of the bleeding or does not make an attempt to mend the blood vessel, nor does he call 911 for emergency help. He leaves her in the chair, tells a nurse to look after her, leaves the office and goes home for the afternoon. A while later, when the nurse on duty cannot revive the young woman, she calls 911. When the paramedics arrive, they cannot get a gurney to her because the halls and doors are too narrow. When they finally reach her, it is too late to save her. The final indignity occurs when they have to literally fold her body around corners and doorways to get her out of the building.

I am sure you are thinking that the scenario I describe simply does not happen in our world of modern medicine. And you would be right about nearly any medical facility licensed to do business in the Commonwealth. I say "nearly any" because the unfortunate truth is that something like this occurred two years ago in a Northern Virginia abortion clinic that resulted in the death of a young woman. While the details are still unknown, when I heard about this tragedy I was moved to do something to ensure that it would not happen again.

In following up on this tragedy, I learned some startling facts. I did not know that abortion clinics are not regulated, nor are they required to be inspected by the Virginia Department of Health. If there is a problem at an abortion clinic, it is only uncovered if someone lodges a complaint. I also learned that the same abortion clinic mentioned earlier had three other emergency ambulance visits in the six months prior to the death of one of their patients. It turns out that just about all of the Northern Virginia abortion clinics were making similar 911 calls to save their own patients.

Be sure to read the whole letter.

You'll notice the pattern: Destroying innocent life takes precedence over medical safety, letting a patient make an informed choice about surgery, and letting parents to know about and consent to surgery on their children. Our nation's leaders have also given abortion a special exemption when it comes to the right to assemble peacably and protest, and I don't know any political movement other than the pro-life movement that has been targeted for harassment using the RICO statutes. Under Cuccinelli's bill, abortion clinics would have been subject to about 40 regulations -- the same sort of regulations that outpatient surgery clinics must comply with. Who could believe it's really too burdensome to prohibit dermatologists from performing abortions?

As I read of the bill's death by committee, my first thought was that surely the Democrats are still in charge of the Virginia Legislature, and that's why such reasonable legislation can't make it out of committee. This sort of result is a regular event in the Oklahoma Senate, where Democrat Senate Health Committee chairman Bernest Cain blocks pro-life legislation, despite the strong pro-life convictions even among members of his own party. (Sen. Cain, you'll recall, is an embittered ex-Christian who compared Christians to Nazis and the Taliban a couple of years ago. That his Democratic colleagues allow him to retain his responsible position puts the lie to their claim that at the state level at least, Democrats are still in step with Oklahoma values.)

But Virginia's problem seems to be an infestation of RINOs. Republicans have a majority in the Virginia Senate, and of the nine votes to kill the bill, two Republicans, Committee Chairman H. Russell Potts and Frederick M. Quayle voted along with all seven Democrats. Potts is talking of leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent for Governor, and he broke with his Republican colleagues to support a record $1.5 billion tax increase. (Interesting how self-professed social-liberal-but-fiscal-conservatives usually turn out to be fiscal liberals.) Quayle made the news last March when he proposed an amendment to a bill banning nudist camps for teens; Quayle's unsuccessful amendment would have allowed camp owners to be designated in loco parentis, so that teens would be able to attend nudist camps without their parents or guardians present.

This underscores the importance of Republican party primaries. It isn't good enough to hold a majority if key members of your caucus are philosophically out of step with the party's central values and work to undermine good legislation. Conservative activists need to identify good Republican primary challengers to these RINOs and help them get an early and strong start.

It's often argued that we must tolerate RINOs because there are seats too liberal for real conservative Republicans to win. Sen. Cuccinelli is an example of how wrong that thinking is -- a pro-life stalwart and a key advocate of TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) legislation, he won in Fairfax County, a liberal, affluent area in the suburbs of DC.

There ought to be consequences for these two Republican state senators who stood in the way of a floor debate and vote on such reasonable legislation. A failure to act will undermine the confidence of grass-roots conservatives in the party and will come back to bite the GOP as candidates seek volunteers and contributors among conservative activists.

NYC Mayor endorses gay marriage


Kevin McCullough reports on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement that he supports gay marriage, made at a black tie event hosted by a national gay and lesbian organization. (Click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page, past the Super Bowl coverage.)

In his comments, Kevin gets to what I think is the heart of the issue, a point that is often missed even by advocates of the traditional definition of marriage:

The advocates of "gay marriage" or redefining marriage to include same sex unions wish to have society, and even those of different religious persuasion be forced to recognize their sexual unions and more than that to give approval of such unions in relationship to employment, housing, etc.

Make no misunderstanding about this...this issue has nothing to do with supposed "equal rights". Gay couples can already, in every state, create any legal and binding contract that spells out everything from inheritance, to hospital visitation, to tax incentives. No this is not about equal rights... this is about mandated sanctity, and the desire to ultimately punish anyone who believes this behavior to be morally wrong.

Exactly. The movement is all about forcing everyone, whatever their moral or religious convictions, to treat such a relationship as if it were a real marriage.

On the same topic, Scott Sala, blogger and Republican activist in New York City, says he's had enough of having a RINO as mayor:

This is huge. Not just nationally, but locally. If ever - EVER - there was a time for Republicans to take back their party in this city, this is it.

I signed up last week to volunteer for Bloomberg's campaign, out of party support when a signup sheet went around at a Young Republican event. Tonight, I emailed the guy to scratch my name off permanently.

This announcement will cause Bloomberg to lose his final allies on the Right in NYC. His only friend now is his money. The $250K he sent to the Conservative Party so they won't run a candidate? Return it!

All we Republicans need now is a Club For Growth ready to wage a "Pat Toomey" against Manhattan's "Arlen Specter." Who is this Toomey? That's what's irking me. Let's pull Badillo back in. Retract your endorsement, Herman, please.

Scott for Mayor!

NOTE: Kevin McCullough has reupped as an advertiser on BatesLine. Kevin told me yesterday that of the many blogs he's advertised on, from well-known to obscure, BatesLine ranked second in terms of click-thrus for the cost. That means BatesLine is great value for your advertising dollar. Thanks, Kevin, for the vote of confidence! And if you'd like to advertise on BatesLine, start the process by clicking here.

Be sure to show your appreciation for Kevin's support of BatesLine by clicking his ad. From the ad you can click through to read his blog and also to listen online to his daily radio talk show on WWDJ and WMCA New York. You can hear the show live from noon to 3 Central Time or as it repeats continually between live shows. reports that a small-town Illinois pastor was questioned by FBI agents about a sermon he delivered on Memorial Day last year, in which he compared the victims of abortion to the casualties of war:

"I shared the number of people who have died in wars versus the number who had died through 'legal' abortion since 1973," Steele said. "I stated that we are in a different type of war that is being fought under the 'presupposition of freedom.'"

Steele said that he went on to name an abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill., a city just outside St. Louis, and pointed out that they perform as many as 45 abortions per week.

Somebody in the church that day apparently misunderstood Steele's "different type of war" comment to mean that he was actually calling his congregation to a physical war against abortion clinics, so he or she placed an anonymous phone call to the FBI.

A comment, in a different sermon, about his willingness to go to jail for the truth added fuel to the fire:

The informant allegedly told the FBI that in addition to Steele calling for a war against abortion clinics, he also said he was willing to go to jail over such a cause.

Steele said that he had spoken about his willingness to go to jail, but that he made those remarks in a different sermon that dealt with homosexuality from the same sermon series.

"I had mentioned a pastor in Canada who had been arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church," Steele said. The pastor said he went on to tell his congregation that "if speaking the truth means that we go to jail, then by golly, that's where I'm going to be and I'm going to save you a seat next to me."

In the end, no formal investigation was done. The FBI agents were gracious, the pastor was gracious, and the matter was dropped. No harm, although anticipating the FBI's visit must have been nervewracking for the pastor.

It's possible the informant was confused or possessed of an overactive imagination. It's also possible that this was intended to be a means of harrassment, creating a chilling effect to keep this pastor and others from preaching on social issues. It will be worth watching to see if there are more investigations of pastors, and how diligent the FBI is at filtering out complaints intended to intimidate faithful preachers.

(Hat tip:

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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from February 2005.

Culture: January 2005 is the previous archive.

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