Thursday, March 24, 2005

Schiavo, Roe vs. Wade and the Courts

As heard on the NewsHour


Judicial or political intervention


JIM LEHRER: In other words, the judge in Florida should not be resolving this; there should be a federal law of some kind that would resolve this?

DAVID BROOKS: Right. And I would say building off the abortion example, I mean, I personally believe if we had settled the abortion issue politically rather than judicially, we would have arrived at some sort of muddled solution, which was not either or and most Americans would be happy with it. And most Americans would regard it as a little more legitimate. And just people would feel happy with the law. And as with that birth issue, I think the same thing is true with this death issue.

JIM LEHRER: But, David, this issue involving Terri Schiavo has been going on for seven years and Congress did nothing until issuing some subpoenas today.

DAVID BROOKS: That's right. And there's an element of political grandstanding. But there's also an element of sincere belief. I mean, I'm personally sort of in the middle on this issue. I'm muddled. I confess I haven't really come to conclusions about this subject.

But I do, just thinking about it, why does there seem to be a presumption toward the death option when the woman's parents are willing to take care of her? Why can't we have a law that says the presumption is toward life unless you sign something and there's something very concrete that's definable in a court of law saying "No, I don't want these measures taken?" To me there should be a presumption toward life but everyone have the right to sign something, which makes it very cut and dry.

MARK SHIELDS: Jim, one thing, David used the term "grandstanding," which I think was probably kind. I went back and checked the files; Tom Delay had not spoken on this issue -- the House Republican Majority Leader, until Wednesday of this week. I mean, I think it's a great diversionary tactic for him.

I don't think there's any question he identifies himself with Palm Sunday, that there are people of deep religious conviction who believe that this is totally wrong and that somehow he wants to divert attention. I don't think there's any question about it. And the idea of subpoenaing Terri Schiavo is a grandstand.

But the issue remains, and I think David is right, a political resolution of the abortion issue would have resolved that. We were headed toward that on a state-by-state basis. Some states were going to legalize it under certain terms, others were going to legalize it totally in New York, and then we short circuited it by going to the courts. And I think this is a mistake here."


This is one of the most thoughtful discussions I have seen to date. Especially important because of the ideas that we have allowed the courts to become a world in themselves and so moral issues become issues of legal procedure. Legal procedure cannot solve moral dilemmas. David Brooks is quite right that the courts have a "presumption toward the death option" instead of a presumption toward life option.

Mary Ann Glendon has written well on exceptional nature of Roe vs. Wade and how at the time people knew it was a manufactured decision. I will try to find it later (here is a summary of some arguments) . We must be patient because this will take time. First the ultrasound is making people realize what is in the womb. See article Then as more and more people are uncomfortable it will become clear to our political leaders that there is no upside in supporting abortion and then there will be a tipping point where even the ones now supporting abortion will change there opnions. For many of them they will be changing back to what they said in the '70's when it was popular to be against abortion.

Most people have a strong sense of protecting life that they can clearly recognize as living and breathing human or animals. Or I would say all people with the exception of a few sociopaths. The isssues become cloudy at the edges. On the one hand it is life in the womb, which exists in reality but is more in potential than in actuality. On the other extreme it is life that seems burdensome to the totally healthy. Like in Terri Schiavo's case, or in the Pope's case for that matter. This latter issue will become more important as the population ages.

It is important that we develop a philosophy of life and communicate it in an interesting fashion so that people can understand that when thy undermine the two edges they undermine life as they would protect it now. This is a philosophical argument that is discussed in Ordinary Men. And other books that attempt to explain how ordinary people can do horrible things. However, it is impossible to have these debates while both sides are intransigent, which is the point made by both Brooks and Shields. By solving the issue in the courts we have taken it off the table.

Slowly but surley an entire generation of woman who developed their political ideology based on the "right to choose" have to become loving mothers and realize the errors of their ways in the loving eyes of their children and realize that their political position is unteneble with their developing concience.

And for some who have had abortions it will mean repenting of their sins and accept the forgiveness of God whose mercy is infinite. ("Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isa. 1.18))

Back to Schiavo

The judge should have seen using common sense that Michael Schiavo had questionable interest in the life of his wife. He had a financial interest for years. He was living with another woman and had two children with her. He is living in a virtual bigimous state. I don't say this to judge him just what the judge should consider. She left no explicit instructions so we are taking him at his word, yet his actions according to Terri's nurse are questionable.

On NPR the other day I heard a doctor talking about the "vegatative state" and he even pointed out that this was a terrible word because it gives people the wrong impression. I will research this topic.

1 comment:

Pro Free Life said...

I'm neither pro-choice nor pro-life. But I'm pro-free-life! Check out www.ProFreeLife.com.