Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A misguided crusade

Though quite dramatic and carried out with the fervor of politicians who might actually believe in what they were doing, Congress' last-minute "rescue" of Terri Schiavo rang hollow.

In what amounted to judicial gerrymandering, Congress passed legislation—written specifically for Schiavo—which plucked her case out of Florida state courts and plopped it down into Tampa Federal District Court. Before Judge James D. Whittemore, Schiavo's parents contended Monday that Terri's due process rights were infringed upon.

Terri's husband, Michael, argued that seven years of court hearings in the state system was ample due process. Judge Whittemore ruled in his favor yesterday.

Schiavo's parents are appealing the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Rep. Tom Delay and Sen. Bill Frist led the Republican charge on the issue. Frist, a thoracic surgeon, went so far as to determine that Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state, news, no doubt, to Schiavo's neurologists over the past 14 years.

What happened to the party that believed in small government, in getting government out of our lives? What happened to the party that championed states' rights? What of the party so determined to respect the "sanctity of marriage?" Does that apply only when talking about homosexuality and not when it concerns the most profound decision a married couple may face?

Thankfully, Terri Schiavo has no idea she has become a pawn in a contest of ideological gamesmanship.

Perhaps now she will be allowed to pass on with the dignity she deserves, dignity that the conservative faction of Congress has shown it lacks.

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