To live and die

That Terri Schiavo is alive through force-feeding is Satan’s own irony.

The woman suffered brain damage from a possible potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder, reported by some news outlets as bulimia, in 1990. She can breathe, but force feedings are all that keep her alive.

This tragic story has many points to consider, but maybe they’re not the ones that are getting all the press.

Let’s point out a few of these issues:

• The conservative leaders of our country claim support for states’ rights until the state courts disagree with the current federal government’s agenda. (And senators were too cowardly to vote on the record, approving the shift of the Schiavo case from state to federal court on a voice vote.)

• There is an implied equal and opposite right to every constitutionally bestowed right. For example, freedom of speech implies a freedom from speech. Rights against unreasonable search don’t suggest that reasonable searches are mandatory. The right to life suggests a right to control one’s own destiny—including its end.

• The right to life is not often interpreted as a life sentence confined to solitary confinement within the cell of one’s own head with a tube forced down the throat. That sort of treatment of prisoners is against the Geneva Convention. But then, it’s not too great a stretch to consider Schiavo’s body a political prisoner.

• Incidentally, the “right to life” is a privilege. Our government legally kills all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. It’s only a “right” until the government and society decides otherwise.

• The leaders of our country claim belief in the sanctity of the relationship between a husband and wife until that relationship is undermined by a parent whose agenda fits the radical agenda of the current federal leadership.

• God’s will supersedes man’s will until God incapacitates a human being to the point of being unable to eat, and then it is humanity’s responsibility to keep that human alive with extraordinary means in opposition to God’s implied will.

• If, as one side of the argument maintains, Terri Schiavo died 15 years ago, then she is not within that body, and its maintenance makes no difference to her.

• There are disabled people who are kept alive by extraordinary means in nearly every state of the union.

• People will humanely kill the most rabid dog or the most vicious predator of children, but an innocent victim isn’t accorded that same simple, dignified death. What is the humane thing to do in this case?

Anyway, things to think about.

While the story of Terri Schiavo’s 15-year post-death life is singular, the death of a 26-year-old woman by an eating disorder is all too cliché. That story is not being told. It’s apparently being overwhelmed by political ax grinding. There are millions of victims of eating disorders.

Those who say that either side of this battle is motivated by greed over the million-dollar malpractice lawsuit are despicable. Those who say that the government is motivated by compassion for Terri Schiavo are naïve.

Decisions to remove our loved ones from medical machinery are made every day—and life is not what Terri Schiavo is doing. It’s a heart-rending decision, but it should have been left up to the one person who Terri Schiavo legally chose to make it for her—her husband.