01 April 2005

Conservatives in a post-Terri world

Yesterday's passing of Terri Schiavo was a sad moment for all of us. Regardless of how you felt about the legal wranglings surrounding this unfortunate circumstance, it still has been a trying two weeks for America. Terri

During the Schiavo saga, the conservatives showed their true colors and Americans must now pay attention. It is important to note that today's GOP is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater. As conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan stated last year about the modern Republican Party, "This is not Reaganism. It isn't Gingrichism. It's Big Government Moral Conservatism: fiscally liberal and socially conservative." The size of government has never been bigger, federal spending is at an all-time high, deficits are sky-high, and government's role in our private affairs has never been greater nor more intrusive. Over the past two weeks, national and state Republicans have shown their hand and revealed their true agenda to the world. They want a larger, more powerful government that creates order by exercising greater control over the nation's citizens. Advocating government sponsored prayer, rescinding our rights to privacy, usurping our civil rights ... like I said, this is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan.

The Schiavo saga revealed that conservatives would like to take away an American's right to die with dignity and to refuse treatment for terminal illness. These objectives were made very clear. Thursday evening on Hardball, David Gregory, who was guest hosting for Chris Matthews, interviewed Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, a Schindler family spokesman and leader of the religious right. Father Pavone stated that what occurred to Terri Schiavo was technically murder. When asked to explain his statement, the priest stated that since the removal of Terri's feeding tube caused her death and since the government mandated the removal of the tube, one must conclude that the government murdered Terri. I don't agree, but I will concede that it is a logical argument. However if you apply that same reasoning to every situation where artificial means are used to keep someone alive, then every case when a person is removed from life support, whether by a ventilator or feeding tube, is technically assisted suicide, or euthanasia. Leaders of the religious right and most public officials agree that euthanasia is not justified in our society. Therefore if you apply Father Pavone's standard to all situations of life support or sustenance by artificial means, removal of life support, whether by court order or living will, should be illegal. Father Pavone telegraphed his intentions and the goal of the religious right.

So, you think I'm overreacting? I don't blame you. But don't take my word for it. Listen to the religious right. Reverend Pat Mahoney, executive director of the Christian Defense Coalition and a strong supporter of the Schindlers, has stated that a major goal of the religious right is to roll back laws that recognize artificial sustenance and hydration as medical treatment. Mahoney is not alone. "I cannot disagree more: Food and water is not medical treatment. It's ordinary care," said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council. Stemberger went further: "Our primary interest is what the law should be, not what the law is, and this will be one of our top priorities: to create new public policy." Since 1990, the federal courts have recognized a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, including artificial sustenance and hydration. Mahoney and others aim to change those definitions. In fact, that is what they were trying to do with Terri Schiavo.

On the same Thursday episode of Hardball, David Gregory interviewed Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) by telephone to discuss the Schiavo case. Santorum stated that he was opposed to how the issue concluded, so Gregory asked him the million dollar question. He asked if the senator believed in an individual's right to die. Santorum said "no." While people in good faith may disagree on the merits of the Schiavo case, the Santorum position is much more extreme. By his statement, Senator Santorum opposes living wills when the subject's wishes are to not live by artificial means. This goes much further than the case of Terri Schiavo where there was some dispute on her wishes. Santorum, and conservatives like him, believe that Americans should not ... Americans must not have the right to refuse medical treatment, including artifical sustenance and hydration.

The passing of Terri Schiavo was a sad moment. It should also, however, be a wake-up call to those who value our liberties. There are conservatives who want to infringe on our God-given freedom, and it is imperative that those who love America and everything that it represents stand up and fight.


Blogger American On Line said...

I share your view, your fear, and support your warning.

I do believe that it will - almost must - get worse before it can get better, since they have such a pervasive and powerful hold on all levers of power, and the opposition is weak, paralyzed and has no leader with the voice, power or 'leadership' to motivate the base.

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