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An Exercise of Power

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The Fallout from Terry Schiavo

George Foster - March 31st, 2005
I don‘t know the answer.
Let me say up front that the tragic case of Terry Schiavo, the mentally incapacitated woman lying in a Florida care center, is a tough one for me. I‘ve changed my opinion several times.
I like to think my own ambivalence reflects our nation‘s highly charged, emotional response to the Schiavo case. The right to avoid artificial life support if our wishes are made known is a given. On the other hand, all life is sacred and conventional medical knowledge has provided erroneous diagnoses concerning life expectancy on countless occasions.
Even though similar life and death decisions are made everyday, it is the video footage of Terry Schiavo circulating on the national media that sets this case apart. These pictures of Ms. Schiavo, in a seemingly vegetative state, are disturbing on several different levels. The images drive home the reality of Terry‘s helpless innocence, the sadness of a formerly close family torn apart over differences about her care, and most of all - what would we do in similar circumstances?
As parents, our instincts are to fight for our children‘s survival. Yet, would you want to be fed artificially for the rest of your time on earth? Anyone who says these are simple questions must be joking.
What I do know is that politicians who attempt to pass quick-fix legislation to override laws that go against current popular opinion are spineless panderers. In 1999, one state‘s governor signed into law the right for hospitals to remove life support in cases like Terry Schiavo. As a result, when the family cannot pay, no matter what the family‘s desires, the feeding tube must be removed.
That state was Texas and the governor: George W. Bush. Now, with the political winds blowing in favor of keeping Ms. Schiavo on life support, the president believes the feeding tubes should be suddenly turned on. Hmmm.
The president isn‘t the only one making political hay on this issue. Other Republican and Democratic officials have jumped on the same grandstanding bandwagon. It is nothing short of an attempt by federal officials to meddle in a family affair that is legally governed by state law and judicial rulings.
The other farce wasting our tax dollars is the recent House hearings on steroid use in baseball. What was the point of these hearings other than to advance the career of sponsoring federal officials who haven‘t been able to resolve issues of national health care, the federal spending deficit, and the war on terrorism?
We all know that steroid use in Major League baseball is a problem. It is also a problem in cycling, track and field, football, weight lifting, etc. Wake-up politicians - the increasing use of steroids in baseball is a reflection of a big problem with American society as a whole. Mark McGwire didn‘t create the demand for steroids. Barry Bonds is not the root of the problem.
Among high school students, those who have tried these drugs have doubled since 1991. Studies have shown that the recent federal hearings on steroid use in baseball have actually resulted in a further increase in experimentation by young people.
Instead of wasting time and tax dollars dragging celebrity sports stars into the woodshed, Congress might think about taking steps to help eliminate the physiological need for drugs or promote enforcement of the current laws.
Now repeat after me, Mr. and Ms. Congressman, “I was not elected to give a knee-jerk reaction to the issue of the week. “I was not elected to...“









 
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