Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mike Schiavo sets up PAC

Michael Schiavo is at once both a person who is both pathetic and repulsive. Pathetic, in that he was caught up in an impossible situation -- his wife Terri Schindler was in a persistent vegitative state and in the absence of a "living will" he was in the position to determine her fate; and we all know how that played out -- with even Congress trying to intervene on her behalf. Repulsive, because of the fact that while his wife was in a coma, he started a relationship with another woman, Jodi Centonze, and had two children with her; and just weeks after Terri's death, he married his personal whore -- in the Catholic Church, no less.

Now, Schiavo is taking his battle to the political scene. He's started up his own personal Political Action Committee -- TerriPAC, and raising money to endorse candidates who either supported him or to oppose those who were against him.

This is not an easy issue for me. Watching my mother rapidly deteroriate then die several years back convinced me the importance of having a continuing care power of attorney -- the only issue in my Mom's case had to deal with a technicality in the one she already had and was in the process of being amended when her tired body finally gave up and it was no longer relevant. On the one hand is the issue of the tens of thousands of families who have relatives in similar states and wrench with how to deal with it -- do they keep them alive or do they pull the plug? On the other hand is the fact that the vast majority of them are not politically connected like the Schindlers were, which is what got the whole controversy going in the first place.

I do not know what is true -- what Schiavo claims, that Terri collapsed from complications owing to bulimia; or what the Schindlers claim, that he was an abusive husband who wanted her dead. What I do know is this: The state had no business interfering in the case. She was clearly in PVS and was simply incapable of recognizing her surroundings; no matter what her "supporters" may have been saying. As a Catholic, I had great difficulty with the decision that Mike made; but on the other hand keeping Terri alive for another thirty or forty years with absolutely no chance of recovery -- as half of her brain had collapsed -- was prospectively an even worse alternative. There was no chance she was going to awake again in this world, and had earned the right to reawake in the next without delay.

It's pretty clear that had there been a living will, the issue would have been settled and no one -- not even Tom Delay -- would have been able to stop it. Unfortunately, the Republicans are hoping for one last chance this fall, because among other things the more extreme members of the party on the issue would like to pass a law that would invalidate all living wills that are currently in effect; putting the decision back in the hands of the state.

At the very minimum, all Mr Schiavo ever asked for was a right to privacy; and it's what he's fighting for now. I cannot abide his adultery, as well as the Church's sanctioning of it. But I do agree with him that, in the absence of definite proof of coercion or abuse, the right to terminate medical treatment is something that rests with immediate families first without interference.

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