Culture: March 2005 Archives

Bearing witness

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Dave Curell, one of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastors who kept vigil outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo was starved to death, committed an act of civil disobedience by trying to enter the hospice without the permission of the administrator and spent the night in the Pinellas County jail. In a lengthy entry, he describes the work they did outside the hospice, the decision for civil disobedience, and what went through his mind as he went forward with that decision. He sets the scene shortly after their arrival:

In this environment our role was quickly defined. As we told people we were pastors we were welcomed and invited to do what pastors are supposed to do: care for the sheep. The lack of pastoral presence was obvious from the first. As one man we met early put it, “Where are the pastors? Where the hell are the pastors?” Even the Roman Catholic faithful welcomed us as they lamented the absence of their priests. They were as sheep without a shepherd.

The days were long and the ministry opportunities were constant. It was as if everyone there--police, protestors, and press--had their chest cavities opened for work on the heart. We were all laid bare by the reality that a woman who had committed no crime was being dehydrated and starved to death in the building next to us and that the “justice” system of our country had ordered it.

On the eighth day after Terri's death sentence began, when hope of government intervention was all but gone, Dave made the decision to get arrested. He spent some time writing a statement and praying in his hotel room then returned to the hospice:

I finished writing and got into the car to drive back to the protest site. My head started spinning. I arrived, greeted David Bayly, and told him of my intentions. For the next hour I was on overload. David introduced me to a reporter and I gave her my statement. I proceeded to the gate and invited anyone who was interested to hear my statement before I entered. My friends were there and a couple of members of the press. I remember one cameraman vividly because he would not point his camera at me and it was obvious that he despised me. I am thankful for this man most of all because he humiliated me to such a point that, as I began the process of my arrest, I was completely undone.

I've been reading Witness by Whittaker Chambers and am nearing the end of the book. That last sentence strikes me as something Chambers could have written. If Curell had gone forward for arrest filled with pride and self-righteousness at his bravery, the witness he bore would somehow have been cheapened. Instead, he went to his arrest as a broken man, representing the broken state of a nation in which a woman could be starved to death by court order.

Curell finishes his account by recounting the cool reception he received from his five-year-old daughter, who had learned of his arrest. I encourage you to read the entire article.

From Blogs for Terri: She passed away at around 10 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. There is word that her parents were not allowed to be with her at the end.

May the Angels lead you into paradise;
may the martyrs greet you at your arrival
and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the choir of Angels greet you
and like Lazarus, who once was a poor man,
may you have eternal rest.

Kevin McCullough has a sharp rebuttal to an all-too-typical angry attack on those of us who are supporting Terri Schiavo's right to live. Kevin's correspondent hits all the usual talking points, some of which have appeared in comments on this site, and Kevin's response is worth reading.

Kevin has also assembled a moving audio montage about Terri, backed by Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" -- you'll find it here, and Kevin is offering it to any radio host who wishes to use it on air.

Here is a stunning essay in the Harvard Crimson by Harvard student Joe Ford. Joe has severe cerebral palsy, bad enough that people assume he is cognitively disabled because of his articulation and muscle tone. Only have time enough for one excerpt:

The result of this disrespect is the devaluation of lives of people like Terri Schiavo. In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—“would not want to live like this.” In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might “get better”—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called “mental retardation”) is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.

Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because he or she cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.

Hat tip to Sierra Faith.

No one can say now that Terri Schiavo was on artificial life support. She has survived ten days without food or water, and it is reported that she is still responsive to visitors and that there are indications that she is not completely dehydrated. It may be that she is being sustained in some miraculous way, and we need to pray that God will deliver her from the hands of those who seek her death.

Many have said that Terri isn't there any more, just an empty shell, and it's time her family let her go to be with Jesus. There are complaints about the hypocrisy of conservatives for seeking Federal intervention in what should be a state matter. Certain blasé bloggers prefer to shrug their shoulders -- it's tragic, sure, but there are plenty of other tragedies in the world.

Here is what seems so outrageous to me. This is why I cannot let go of this situation: Despite credible testimony that Terri is responsive and therefore not in a persistent vegetative state, despite credible testimony that she could take nutrition and water by mouth, Judge Greer refuses to hear any new testimony, refuses to permit new testing, refuses to consider that his finding of fact from nearly 10 years ago may have been in error. He is so determined that this woman die that no one is permitted to attempt to give her nutrition and water by mouth. If Terri were miraculously to get up from her bed and try to get herself a drink, I wouldn't be surprised if the judge ordered her bound and gagged. Her death seems to be the only satisfactory outcome to Judge Greer.

We need to continue to pray that God would sustain Terri physically and emotionally, as well as her parents; that God would change Michael's heart; and that God would change Judge Greer's heart, too.

Tim and David Bayly, the PCA pastors who have been blogging from outside the hospice, are headed back to Ohio. Their last entries from the scene are well worth reading and pondering. One of these entries is a doctrinal statement on euthanasia, footnoted with Scripture and the PCA's doctrinal standards. (In the excerpt, I've interpolated the text of the footnotes.) The statement makes an important distinction between treatment and care:

Today there are mounting pressures upon medical professionals, pastors, families, and individuals to hasten the death of those under their care or authority. Such hastening sometimes takes the form of direct action, such as a lethal injection. More commonly, it takes the passive form of neglect or withdrawal of the necessary means of preservation of life. (Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 135,136.) Such means include medical treatment, both extraordinary and ordinary. But they also include basic provisions historically understood as care: warmth, cleanliness, food, water, and love. Christians must distinguish between "treatment" and "care."

Where medical treatment which is not gravely burdensome is necessary for an individual to continue to live, the withdrawal of such treatment--except in cases where death is imminent and inevitable and to continue such treatment would pose a grave risk or cause more of a burden to the patient than it would alleviate--is a violation of the image of God which all men and women bear.

Loving care for all members of the human community is a fundamental Christian teaching and an obligation of Christian discipleship. (1 Timothy 5:4-8; James 1:27) Therefore it ought never to be withheld. This includes providing liquids and nutrition through spoon-feeding or tubes where the patient is unable to take them by another manner. Withholding such necessary means for the preservation of life must, therefore, stand under Scripture's condemnation, (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 25:31-46; James 2:14-17) even in the case of those who are perpetually comatose or in a persistent vegetative state. Christians should also ensure that members of the human community are upheld with the warmth and love of human contact.

Although it doesn't bear directly on Terri's situation, the final post from the site has some interesting observations on the way Protestants and Catholics worked together outside the hospice.

Be sure to keep an eye on Blogs for Terri for the latest news and what you can do to help.

Terri Schiavo roundup

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David Bayly
has all the day's developments from outside Terri Schiavo's hospice.

Dr. Boyle at CodeBlueBlog is a radiologist. He has looked at the CT scan of Terri's brain from 1996 and takes issue with the oft-repeated assertion that Terri's brain has "liquefied":

First of all, the University of Miami's appellation for this scan is inaccurate. "Cortical regions" are not and can not be filled with spinal fluid. The sulci (spaces between cortical ribbons) are enlarged secondary to cortical atrophy and these sulci are filled with cerbrospinal fluid.

The most alarming thing about this image, however, is that there certainly is cortex left. Granted, it is severely thinned, especially for Terri's age, but I would be nonplussed if you told me that this was a 75 year old female who was somewhat senile but fully functional, and I defy a radiologist anywhere to contest that.


He notices a shunt in her left ventricle, and that raises all sorts of questions, questions that can only be answered by a repeat CT scan, as well as an MRI and a PET scan. He sees all the classic signs of hydrocephalus.

Dr. Boyle also looked at the 1991 bone scan report:

Certainly IN A CHILD (which Schiavo, obviously was not), the combination of posterior rib fractures, vertebral compression fractures, and distal femoral periosteal elevation is ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY DIAGNOSTIC for child abuse and any radiologist who missed this diagnosis would be subject to disciplinary action from his peers and state licensing board.

The Evangelical Outpost points out the effect on this case of Florida's abolition of common-law marriage and adoption of no-fault divorce laws.

David Wayne, the Jollyblogger, asks if Christians are viewing this situation, and in particular, Michael Schiavo, from a cross-centered perspective:

Viewing Michael through a cross-centered lens won't change the sinfulness of his actions. Viewing Michael through a cross-centered lens won't change our obligation to rescue those being led away to slaughter. Viewing Michael through a cross-centered lens won't change our obligation to voice our opposition to the laws that make the starvation of a person like Terri possible.

But we are also faced with how we are to respond to Michael as a person. Put more precisely, how does the gospel guide our response to Michael as a person? If all should go his way, how should the Christian community react to him in the future? ...

I fear that, for the rest of Michael's life, Christians will be praying for his comeuppance more than they will for his salvation. Christians will be mostly concerned that Michael receive justice for his part in this rather than mercy.

I also fear that Michael will receive a lifetime of hate messages from professing Christians. ...

I have to confess that, until now I have not looked at Michael through gospel eyes, or through a cross-centered lens. I have committed the sin of moral indignation, forgetting that I am the chief of sinners. I have also forgotten my favorite of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions:

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. July 30.

None of us should dare think that Michael has sunk to a level of "vileness" to which we ourselves have not sunk.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip to Michael Spencer, posting at Boar's Head Tavern for the links to the Evangelical Outpost and Jollyblogger entries.)

My friend John Eagleton, an attorney here in Tulsa, just called me with an idea for saving Terri Schiavo's life, now that the Federal appellate court has ruled against the Schindlers' appeal. He says it will require some guts on the part of the executive branch, either in Florida or at the federal level, and a prosecutor willing to fudge a little.

Everyone is guilty of breaking some law. A prosecutor could charge Terri with a crime, issue a warrant for her arrest, and take her into custody, at which point the state would be responsible for maintaining her well-being until she can stand trial. That would mean medical care and food and water. The state would not be allowed to starve to death someone in custody awaiting trial. Of course, the trial would have to be stayed until such time as Terri is competent to defend herself.

Seems to me that venue would matter in this case -- the prosecutor would have to cooperate, as would the judge to whom her criminal case would be assigned. Which crime is used for the charge would matter, too. How would you keep Michael Schiavo from bailing her out so he can continue to starve her to death?

Briefly noted

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As Dave Barry says, "I am not making this up." X-ATI Guy links to the website of Wait Wear, which offers a line of pro-chastity T-shirts and underwear. The underwear comes in bikini-cut, "bum bottom classic" and boy brief styles and sports slogans like "No vows, no sex," "I'm saving it," and "Traffic Control: Wait for Marriage."

I appreciate the intention, and it certainly sends a better message than, say, a thong with a built-in condom pocket, but I'm inclined to think that the pro-abstinence message will be lost once he and she are down to their skivvies. And if there is any hope of stopping the countdown to ignition at that point, it will be undone by the presence of words which invite the other party to gaze intently at the groinal region of the wearer.

As tiny as the lettering is, one of the slogans ought to be, "If you can read this, you're too close."

Wait Wear underwear is available in Atlanta at Tease, 1166 Euclid Ave. and other fine stores nationwide.

UPDATE: Oh, my. Wait Wear wants their customers to send in pictures of themselves wearing Wait Wear products. For their online gallery. Right. Online pictures of teenagers in their underpants is a well-known encouragement to chaste thinking and behavior.

As X-ATI Guy responded to a commenter: "'Chastity is not a joke.' Agreed. But proclaiming your chastity on your underpants is."

Our hope is in God alone

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PCA pastor David Bayly continues his thorough and thought-provoking reporting from the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri Schiavo is being starved and dehydrated to death. From his latest dispatch:

Perhaps one of the more pressing questions facing many at the site is what role disobedience to the law should play in seeking to preserve Terri's life....

The police presence is so heavy--increasingly so as time goes by--that any action seems hopeless practically, and thus only useful as a statement. Yet many are questioning whether such a statement should be made. Should a hopeless-but-righteous action not be taken because it appears hopeless?

On the other hand, the desire of the Schindler family not to have their daughter's suffering become more of a circus is also significant, and until such time as appeals are exhausted, it would seem their wishes should be respected.

Still, there is more.... Terri's case has come to represent abiding and fundamental principles of justice and righteousnes. What is at stake in her treatment by society will influence our nation for years to come.

In the end, while we follow the will of God established in His Word and applied by the Holy Spirit to our lives, our hope remains in Him and His power alone.

Earlier, Bayly posted news from those who have visited Terri inside the hospice and some analysis of the cynical gamesmanship he sees in Judge Whittemore's ruling on the Schindlers' motion to reinsert Terri's feeding tube:

In court yesterday it was clear that David Gibbs was making a charged decision in answering Judge Whittemore's question about Judge Greer's status in his complaint and whether he wanted to attach Judge Greer personally to the complaint. Gibbs hesitated, then stated that he saw no reason to attach Greer personally and only sought to deal with his rulings in his legal capacity as a judge. Though Gibbs did say that he might wish to expand his suit later to include others, including the possibility of charging Michael Schiavo with perjury, he confined himself to the record in his initial filing.

I remember praying for wisdom for David at that point in the trial. It seemed like Judge [Whittemore] was asking, “Are you really going to go after my fellow judge personally?” Today, it looks like Judge Whittemore had indeed set a trap with his insistent questions, a trap which last night he sprang shut by saying that since no new issues were raised there was nothing beyond the previous court record to consider and because that was completely against the Schindler family, there exists no possibility of winning after further review and thus there is no cause for injunctive relief.

Clang. The cynic springs his trap. But it’s not David Gibbs or Terri Schiavo whose soul lies in chains as a result of Judge Whittemore’s legal niceties.

Psalm 140:5-8 (ESV) 5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah 6 I say to the LORD, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O LORD! 7 O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle. 8 Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot or they will be exalted! Selah

There's more, and Bayly is updating regularly throughout the day.

"A strange brotherhood"

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Another insightful report from PCA pastor David Bayly, who is keeping vigil outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is being starved to death by judicial fiat.

Before other observations, we must start with the grave observation that Terri has now been deprived of nutrition and water--has, in a word, been starved--for over three full days. This is incipient murder. No opinion poll, judge, politician or law on earth can make it anything else. May God have mercy on America for this blot upon our national conscience. Judges of America, there is a higher tribunal, a bar before which you will one day answer. But just as Daniel includes himself in his prayer of repentance for the national sins of Israel, so all Americans must seek God's forgiveness for this sin WE are committing.

Bayly observes: "A strange brotherhood of Roman Catholic believers and Reformed Protestant believers has developed at the site." He speaks admiringly of the Christ-like character evident in some of the protesters, such as this man:

David Gibbs, the Schindler's attorney, has a brother who pastors a Baptist church in this area. Members of the church have been wonderfully faithful in demonstrating for Terri. One young father, (what was his first name?) Adams, was exceptional last night. He witnessed with such kindness for hours to the lone anti-Terri protestor (actually, just a hurting young man) that by the end of the night the protestor was saying that he supported Terri and wanted to see her fed.

In an earlier entry, Bayly gives a report from the Federal courtroom in Tampa. Michael Schiavo's attorney is arguing that the law passed by Congress is unconstitutional. Gibbs must file a brief in reply, and it has to be thorough enough to respond to the judge, but ready early enough to help save Terri. For whatever reason, the judge has not granted injunctive relief to keep Terri alive while arguments are heard.

In case you're wondering, yes, Federal Judge James D. Whittemore is a Clinton appointee.

As soon as Terri's Law was signed by President Bush, Terri Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, filed a motion in Federal court to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted. For whatever reason, the assigned judge, James D. Whittemore, did not grant the motion immediately. The hearing will be at 3:00 p.m. at Tampa's Federal courthouse.

David Bayly, a blogger and PCA pastor who has been keeping vigil outside the hospice, writes:

By faith we have the avenue of greatest power at our disposal. Will you join us in prayer to God the Father Almighty for Terri and the Schindler family?

Patsy Brekke posted a comment on that entry worth meditating on:

You are right, we need to look up and out, to the Cross, to Christ, to God the Father of Life first and foremost - not to man, politics, the media or our own wisdom and strength.

Lowborn men are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie;
if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath...

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
My hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

from Psalm 62

The House just adjourned, having passed the Senate version of Terri's Law (S. 686) by a vote of 203-58. All but a handful of Republicans voted in favor, joined by about 40 Democrats present. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

Watching C-SPAN's coverage of U. S. House debate on Terri Schiavo bill. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, speaking from the well of the House, told his colleages that 10 courts and 19 judges have heard all the testimony in the case and all reached the same conclusion. Utter baloney -- only one court and one judge heard all the testimony and saw all the evidence, and that's the heart of the problem.

Barney Frank, D-Mass., is managing the opposition to the bill. He just declined to give one of his speakers a turn, reserving time for later, making some comment about an imbalance between the two sides, which would seem to suggest that there is more support for congressional intervention in this case.

If you don't have access to cable TV, but do have broadband, you can watch the debate via C-SPAN's website.

When I read something like this, I feel like I was born too late and missed out on all the good stuff. Jeffrey Hart, who at age nine had a season pass to the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, remembers the fair, "the last great fair, innocent in its faith."

It believed in Progress as a comprehensive idea. We no longer have that kind of belief. We believe in advances—in transportation, medicine, communications, computers, longevity, and so on, but not in Progress as a central animating idea, one that gives meaning to life.

Hart takes us inside the Perisphere to Democracity, the planned model city (residences, industries, and offices carefully segregated from each other) of America's future, then out to the Amusement Zone with its parachute rides, Zombies, and freak shows.

Hat tip to Power Line's Big Trunk, whose entry includes links to an earlier essay by Hart and to a collection of images from the fair.

Google News shows nearly 200 news stories covering a study recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The story the mainstream media seems so anxious to report is summed up in the Tulsa Whirled's headline: "Virginity pledges are ineffective in curbing teen STDs, study finds." The story in the Whirled is actually out of the Washington Post, where it bears the slightly more balanced headline, "Teen Pledges Barely Cut STD Rates, Study Says."

How could this possibly be? It appears to hinge upon what teens are taught and made to understand about the meaning of abstinence:

Witness at the vigil


David Bayly, who is outside the hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, where Terri Schiavo is put to death by starvation and dehydration, has been posting some challenging observations on the interaction between protesters on both sides of the issue, the media, and the authorities. Here's a sample from yesterday:

...[N]on-Christians at the scene could easily come to the conclusion that Christians trust primarily in the power of government. There was little sense of reliance on a transcendently powerful, sovereign God in press conference performances (though an evening sermon by a Pastor Rob Schenck did provide such hope). Our trust, it seems, is in Messrs. Hastert, DeLay, Bush, etc. The arm of God is puny in the eyes of some, the arm of man all-too-powerful. This attitude seemed reflected in public prayer sessions which occasionally descended into Potemkin prayer villages. Perhaps the desire for ecumenicity blunted the power of prayer times, though ecumenicity was solely Christian and did not extend to denying the name of Christ.

Bayly, a PCA pastor, would like to see more of his compatriots on the scene:

How wonderful it would be to have 100 normal, thoughtful, engaged Reformed evangelicals here to witness. Opportunities are frequent and powerful, but there don't seem to be many here who are seeking to engage the other side. There's a fair bit of niceness to the other side and a fair bit of anger, but not much attempt at engagement.

And here's an observation from earlier today:

Many opportunities to witness here. Fantastic opportunity. Sadly, however, several conversations with media personnel and pro-Michael demonstrators have been cut short by angry and intrusive pro-Terri demonstrators. Dave and I are wearing navy sportcoats, and it may be that pro-Terry demonstrators feel free to interrupt us assuming we're journalists they're helping by adding to the color of our stories.

Pray for Terri, pray for those who are causing Terri's death to have a changed heart, and pray for those who are demonstrating to bear witness in word and deed to God's power and goodness.

Keeping vigil with Terri


The defiance of Judge George Greer continues to block every effort to allow some other body to consider the facts of Terri Schiavo's situation, rather than relying on Greer's own very suspect findings of fact. Greer rejected the subpoena ordering the appearance of Terri Schiavo before a congressional committee and ordered the execution to proceed.

As you pray and seek for other ways to help Terri, here are some sources of information, in addition to Blogs for Terri and Terri's Fight:

Last night through the fog of congressional maneuvering, Google News seemed to be the best way to find an aggregate of the latest developments. Here's a link to a Google News search on "Schiavo" sorted by most recent.

David Bayly, a PCA pastor and a blogger for World Magazine, is in Pinellas Park, Florida, keeping vigil outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is now being starved and dehydrated to death. He is reporting from the scene as news filters out to the crowd gathered there. Tomorrow he'll be joined there by other PCA pastors and World Magazine publisher Joel Belz.

I'm seeing conflicting information about the status of legislative efforts to prevent the starvation execution of Terri Schiavo, which will begin, by order of Pinellas County, Florida, Judge George Greer, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time today.

The U. S. House passed a bill (HR 1332) on Wednesday that would give a Federal court an opportunity to review the facts of such cases. According to the Tampa Tribune, a unanimous consent request to hear the bill in the Senate failed because of the objection of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a pro-death advocate. The newspaper reported that the Senate succeeded later in passing a private relief bill applying only to Terri, but by then the House had recessed for the month. There's talk of reconvening the House, but many members have already gone back to their districts. Blogs for Terri still seems to hope that this is possible.

Meanwhile the Florida Senate defeated a bill, by a vote of 21-16, which would have set a higher standard for withdrawing food and water from a PVS patient -- there must be either a written advance directive from the patient, or clear and convincing evidence of the patient's wishes. Nine Republicans voted with the Democrats to stop the bill.

As I've said before -- local and state elections matter to the cause of protecting human life. Primary elections matter to the cause of protecting human life. Terri's situation is the result of an elected judge who rejects crucial evidence, the elected sheriff and district attorney of Pinellas County, who refuse to intervene in an apparent case of abuse and neglect, and the Florida legislature, which passed legislation about five years ago categorizing food and water as "life-extending" treatment. Don't assume that if your state legislator is Republican that he's on the right side of this issue.

Last night the U. S. House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, HR 1332, the Protection of Incapacitated Persons Act of 2005. This bill gives an incapacitated person, or the "next friend" of an incapacitated person (a term that would include parents), the right to pursue a cause of action on behalf of the incapacitated person in Federal district court. The Federal court would be authorized determine "whether authorizing or directing the withholding or withdrawal of food or fluids or medical treatment necessary to sustain the incapacitated person's life constitutes a deprivation of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Unlike HR 1151, this bill makes no reference to habeas corpus.

The determination would be made de novo -- that means the court would hear the case as if it had never been heard before and would consider arguments and evidence. In a situation like Terri Schiavo's, it would mean an incapacitated person's life would not be in the hands of one judge only. Yesterday's NRO piece by Rob Johansen documents Pinellas County, Florida, Judge George Greer's shortcomings in considering medical evidence and explains the bizarre reality that Judge Greer's findings of fact can only be reversed by Judge Greer.

Judge Greer has decreed that Terri's slow death will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Everything now depends upon the U. S. Senate taking action quickly. Please contact Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (phone 202-224-3344, fax 202-228-1264) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (phone 202-224-3542, fax 202-224-7327) and urge them to move this bill forward. If you're a Floridian, there is legislation pending in Tallahassee that needs your help -- click here for more information.

NOTE: Action is urgently needed on the Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act. Please contact Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (phone 202-224-3344,
fax 202-228-1264) and Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (phone 202-225-2976, fax 202-225-0697) and plead with them to expedite passage of this bill.

Today on National Review Online, Rob Johansen has a thorough rebuttal to those (like one persistent anonymous commenter on this blog) who claim that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state and that her brain has liquefied. Johansen reviews the decisions made by Judge George Greer, the qualifications of the expert witnesses whose testimony he allowed and of those he disallowed. Regarding the PVS diagnosis, Johansen has been interviewing neurologists:

Almost 50 neurologists all say the same thing: Terri should be reevaluated, Terri should be reexamined, and there are grave doubts as to the accuracy of Terri’s diagnosis of PVS. All of these neurologists are board-certified; a number of them are fellows of the prestigious American Academy of Neurology; several are professors of neurology at major medical schools. ...

One such neurologist is Dr. Peter Morin. He is a researcher specializing in degenerative brain diseases, and has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Boston University.

In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.

There was a moment of dead silence.

“That’s criminal,” he said, and then asked, in a tone of utter incredulity: “How can he continue as guardian? People are deliberating over this woman’s life and death and there’s been no MRI or PET?” He drew a reasonable conclusion: “These people [Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer] don’t want the information.”

My friend Dave Russ sends along a link to this 20-question Southern dialect quiz based on Harvard's survey of regional dialects. The quiz looks mainly at word choice: Is the generic term for a soft drink soda, pop, or Coke? Do you carry groceries in a bag, a sack, or a poke? Is the second person plural "you all," "y'all," "youse guys," or "you'uns."

I had a strongly Southern score, which I partly owe to my Connecticut Yankee eighth grade Latin teacher, who taught us to conjugate verbs after this fashion: "I love, you love, he loves, we love, y'all love, they love."

Dave, a Mobile native, only scored a 60, his dialect no doubt compromised by years in southern California and south Florida. I outdistanced him with a 76. Top that, y'all!

An unavoidable conclusion


Andrew Dobbs of the Burnt Orange Report, a left-leaning Texas political blog, was appalled by news of infant euthanasia in the Netherlands. His dismay at that news led him along a chain of reasoning to a conclusion he did not expect to reach:

MENDing broken hearts


Mikki went to the annual banquet for MEND Pregnancy Resource Center this evening along with several friends. (I hated to miss it, but I had to attend the City Council meeting and then rehearse with Coventry Chorale for an upcoming evensong service.)

The speaker tonight was Valeska Littlefield, who has been leading the charge in Oklahoma for informed consent legislation -- to insure that women who are considering an abortion go into it understanding the developmental stage of their baby and the short-term and long-term medical risks. She is executive director of Pregnancy HopeLine, a 24-hour referral network for all area pregnancy resource centers, and Life Network of Green Country. That website provides information for women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy situation. The hope is that by providing information and support to women in crisis, abortion will truly become rare.

Valeska told about getting an abortion as a young woman, not because she wanted to, but because her parents insisted. When her younger sister later became pregnant, but went to a crisis pregnancy center and decided to keep the baby, her parents kicked the sister out of the house and changed the locks. Valeska resented the fact that her sister didn't get an abortion, but also grew to hate and distrust women, because the woman who was supposed to protect her -- her own mom -- didn't. Mikki got choked up all over again relating this to me.

Some years later Valeska was invited by a friend to attend a fashion show. It was a benefit for MEND, and Valeska learned about the organization and joined a 12-week support class for post-abortive women. She went through the class three times in the process of grieving and healing. Valeska said she's thankful for all those who fight abortion for the sake of the unborn, but she's in the fight for the sake of the women who have been wounded by abortion.

Related resources:

Time to sleep


No time or energy to blog tonight. I'll be on the air again with Gwen Freeman on Tulsa's Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Central time. As always, you're encouraged to check out the blogrolls to the right on the home page. On my main blogroll, the most recently updated blogs are at the top.

Some links of note:

Hmm. Guess I blogged anyway.

Just got an e-mail from the office of Tulsa's congressman, John Sullivan. Rep. Sullivan is one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 1151, the Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act.

In the U. S. Senate, the same bill has been introduced by Florida Sen. Mel Martinez as S. 539. Half of the four co-sponsors are Oklahoma's senators, Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) are the other two sponsors.

Isn't it nice to be represented in Congress by men who know the right thing to do and will do it without needing to be pressured and prompted?

If you are not so blessed, get on the phones to your congressman and senators and urge them to support H.R. 1151 and S. 539 and to help move these bills along through the legislative process. Time is of the essence -- the court order that allows Terri Schiavo to be starved to death is still in force and will take effect in just 9 days.

Here is the Family Research Council's summary of the legislation, which is S. 539 in the Senate:

The right to counsel is a right even criminals enjoy, so why shouldn't Terri and others like her have that precious right? The bill, called "Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act" will not apply to circumstances where an advance medical directive is in effect. Terri never signed such a directive.

The Act simply provides a final avenue of review of the case to insure that a disabled person's Constitutional rights are protected. It is hard to believe that Terri's Constitutional rights have been protected by her husband and his attorney, euthanasia advocate George Felos. Terri's husband has refused to allow her to be represented by separate counsel. He has also refused to allow the rehabilitation therapy that some prominent experts say would help Terri to improve. He has often prohibited her own family and priest from visiting her.

And now the clock is ticking. A judge has ordered that Terri's husband can stop Terri from being fed on March 18. Euthanasia advocates say that she should be "allowed to die" - and FRC agrees. That time will come for one and all! But Terri should not be killed - and what else do you call starvation?

Rob Johansen of Thrown Back reviews Judge Greer's latest rulings in the Terri Schiavo case, denying nearly everyone of her parents' requests, including the request that she be allowed to die at their home, instead of in a hospice and that she be allowed to receive her last communion by mouth. Greer has yet to rule whether Terri should be fed by mouth when the feeding tube is removed. Johansen shows that these rulings aren't about ending artificial life support but making absolutely sure that Terri ends up dead:

Judge Greer's rulings against the Schindlers on the matter of feeding by mouth and viaticum seem to me most indicative of his frame of mind: By precluding attempts, as a "last ditch" measure, to feed her by mouth, the Judge shows that his object is not merely to stop what he might argue (erroneously) is an "extraordinary" means of support, but to see to it that she dies. One might make an analogy to someone on a respirator: frequently respirators are removed from patients, but sometimes they continue to breathe on their own without support. It is as though a judge were to order not only that a respirator be removed, but that the patient's mouth and nose be sealed with duct tape, just to make sure he can't get any air by any means.

Charles G. Hill writes about the Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act, a bill in Congress that would extend habeas corpus protection to ensure that there is due process when there is a dispute about the wishes or interests of an incapacitated person regarding medical treatment. The constitutional basis of the bill is the Fourteenth Amendment: Under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, "No State ... shall deprive any person of life ... without due process of law...nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

You can help Terri and others in similar situations by writing your congressman and encouraging him to support this bill, H.R. 1151. Here's a link to help you contact your U. S. Representative and your U. S. Senators. And here's the press release from the bill's House sponsor, Dave Weldon (R-Florida).

Swinging on a scar

| | Comments (1)

This topic isn't on my usual beat, but I have to give credit to a local TV station for handling it with a degree of maturity and depth. It got me thinking about why people would do such a thing, and that got me thinking about the nature of genuine intimacy.

It's not even a ratings period, as far as I know -- maybe February sweeps extends a few days into March? -- but KTUL, Tulsa's ABC affiliate, did a story about "swinging" couples earlier this week. What was notable -- and commendable -- about the story was that, after a bit of obligatory luridness, they spoke to a Christian counselor about the effect of this form of adultery on relationships and emotions:

Euthanasia? Not exactly

| | Comments (5)

A commenter on an earlier entry wrote:

I'm afraid it's too late for Terri Shiavo [sic] for a more political campaign. It should be a lesson to all of us; If you state your wishes for euthanasia, get it in writing.

So the claim here is that Terri Schiavo stated a wish to be euthanized if confronted with the kinds of disabilities she now suffers, and that there would be no controversy if only she had committed her wish to writing.

Assuming that's true, for the sake of argument, is euthanasia what Judge Greer has ordered for Terri in just over two weeks' time?

As one of over 200 bloggers writing to support Terri Schiavo's right to receive food and water, despite her physical handicaps, I appreciate the hard work of the organizers of Blogs for Terri. I admire their efforts to think outside the box -- to find some creative way to break through the fog of mainstream media misconceptions about Terri's condition, to help Floridians understand what is really going on, so that they can apply pressure on all branches of Florida government to see that justice is done. What I'm about to say is offered in the spirit of constructive criticism.

I was pleased to see the effort to place a newspaper ad in the St. Petersburg Times, the daily paper in Pinellas County, where Terri is being warehoused by her husband. The purpose of the ad was to put out the truth about Terri and direct readers to online resources where they could get the details. I was pleased to see that the fundraising effort succeeded. I was disappointed to hear of the Times' threats to censor the ad, but happy to learn that the Tampa Tribune agreed to run it as is.

But when I saw the ad, my heart sank. As I thought about it, I started to think about the problem in a different way, which pointed to an entirely different approach.

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

Culture: February 2005 is the previous archive.

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