Bioethics, Food, Politics and continual musings on the moronacy rampant in the United States.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Apparently, the real issues escape them

The NYTimes reports on the current "splintering" effect that the recent Schiavo law is having on the Republican party. The politics (and we haven't seen even the beginning of the fallout from this action) aside, I found the statements by some who voted for the law giving federal courts jurisdiction in the case or who thought the law was a good idea interesting.

For Example -- "There's a larger issue in play," [said] Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, "and that is the whole issue of the definition of life. The issue of when is it a life is a broader issue than just a state defining that. I don't think we can have 50 different definitions of life."

No one is claiming, at least not in court and not in congress that Terri Schiavo is not alive. Some are stating that they believe she doesn't have a life worth living (but that's their opinion) and some (i.e. Michael Schiavo) are claiming that she wouldn't want to live like this. But this case has nothing to do with defining life.

And this -- Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a former governor and a strong advocate of states' rights, decided to support the bill after determining that his opposition to euthanasia outweighed his views on federalism, an aide said.

On this one, again, its the wrong issue. This case is not a question of euthanasia because no one, at least so far as I'm aware, is pushing for anyone to do anything to proactively cause Terri Schiavo's death.

This is a case about refusal of medical care. That refusal has incredibly solid legal standing.
See Cruzan for the case that established the right of an incapacitated person to refuse artificial nutrition and hydration though it will result in their death.

See also Quinlan for the decision which established the right to refuse life saving or supporting medical care.

Basically, Quinlan established the right of a person to refuse even life sustaining care and Cruzan defined artificial nutrition and hydration as medical care that may be refused. Also, take careful note of the authors of those opinions. One of those opinions in part, here on, the Scalia concurring opinion from the Cruzan case.

Apparently, then, many in congress and many of those who support the legislation passed over the weekend were looking at issues that don't exist in this case.


Blogger Scott Arnold said...

Some great info Chris. It is clear to me that even though I do believe many members of Congress on the left and right are sincere in their efforts to "save" her, as a whole they are doing so in step with right to life folks or to score political points with their constituencies (although your link to polling data shows they may not be succeeding). Rarely do we see Republicans declaring publicly that a broad issue like this should not be handled by the states!

You've seen my last post and know where I stand. I realize of course that my opinions are based more on convictions and emotions than law, but of course that's important - because sometimes the law is wrong. Most people like me never take the time to learn the legal hurdles - and I'll bet very few conservative voters realize that it is right wing interest groups that largely stand in the way of a more appropriate way (in my view) of causing her death.

Thanks for spending some time on this, I'll link to your blog in the rare chance someone will find mine and want to learn more.

10:49 AM


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