L. Neil Smith's
Number 312, March 27, 2005

"The sooner the better"

Terri Schiavo and Government Intervention
by Ron Beatty

Exclusive to TLE

Over the last few weeks, the story of Terry Schiavo has been filling the media reports, both print and electronic media. To my mind, this is a disgusting commentary on our government and media.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, these are the facts. Terry Schiavo is an adult human being and is married. In 1990, she suffered severe brain damage, due to the effects of her heart stopping as a result of a chemical imbalance. She has been in a persistent vegetative state since that time, approximately fifteen years. As far as I have been able to determine from news reports, not one single physician has been able to offer any realistic hope that she will ever recover.

Now, here's where I will probably get a lot of flack!

As a married adult, her parents have absolutely no say in her life or decisions. By law, once she is married, her parents have no authority over her life in any way.

Supposedly, she had told her husband she did not wish to be kept alive by extreme efforts in this type of situation. What makes this situation so murky is that her husband is living with and has children by another woman, one he met after Terri became comatose.

I can understand the bad feelings on both sides in this issue, and have no wish to offer my opinions on who is right and who is wrong in this issue among the family members of Terri Schiavo. This should never have become the media and political circus that it has.

What is actually criminal in this case is the conduct of politicians on both the federal and state levels. Neither level of government has any authority to intervene in a purely personal decision on the part of the family. I can understand the courts being brought in, to mediate and arbitrate between the family members, to decide who has the right to make the decisions in this particular case.

However, neither the governor of Florida, the occupant of the Oval Office, nor any member of the congress has any right, legal, or moral authority to step in. By passing the special law in the Schiavo case, the federal government has told us that we do not have the right to make our own decisions, be they right or wrong. They have told us that we are incapable of taking care of ourselves.

By the actions of the federal government in this case, we can only assume that if we make any decisions that do not fit the moral guidelines laid out by the Reichsfuhrer, we can expect government intervention. We can expect that our expressed wishes and desires have no bearing. We can expect that our own religious views will be viewed with suspicion.

After all, how many of our parents know all about our lives and decisions, after we leave home and go out on our own, especially after we are married? I know my mother knows almost nothing of my life and decisions. She doesn't know that I am no longer a Catholic. She doesn't know of my religious leanings, or the fact that I am an ordained minister. So how could she possibly know of my desires or wishes if this type of situation arose with me? Even if she did, she has no right to make any decisions for me. Neither does the governor of the state I live in, the congresscritter who represents the district that I live in, or the person who now occupies the Oval Office.

I urge all of you, read the Constitution, especially Article One, Section Eight, which describes the rights and duties of government. Nowhere in there will you find a statement that government may interfere in the personal decisions of individuals. Nowhere in there will you find a statement that the government may establish an over-riding moral code. In fact, this is strictly forbidden, in the First Amendment.

Ladies and gentlemen, being a libertarian is all about individual rights, and more importantly, individual responsibilities. In this particular case, we have to, by law and custom, assume that the husband is telling the truth, that Terri Schiavo had expressed a desire to not be kept alive in this state. Under our laws, he is the only one who can make this type of decision for her. HE has to bear the responsibility for this decision, both the legal responsibility and the moral one.

Complicating matters is his personal life after Terri became comatose. In addition, I'm sure all of you know that his life will be a living hell, especially if he ends up marrying the woman he is living with. There will be allegations that he had Terri "murdered" so he could marry his lover. I would even expect there to be some grandstanding at some point by prosecutors or politicians, to the point that murder charges may be filed against him, or wrongful death lawsuits filed.

It is a sad commentary on our government, that with an illegal and immoral war being waged against the religion of some of the people of Iraq, gas prices going through the roof, the dollar plummeting against foreign currencies, nuclear threats and/or potential threats in Iran and North Korea, threats of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and all the other myriad foreign and domestic problems facing our government, the politicians have to involve themselves in what should be a purely personal decision. Perhaps this is their way of coping? Maybe they know that they are totally incapable of dealing with the big issues, and are using this to divert attention? Perhaps, just perhaps, they know that if they upheld their oaths of office, they would have to over-ride the decisions of the occupant of the Oval Office, and they are unable or unwilling to do that, and are using this issue to distract voters from their appalling lack of courage?

I will close this piece now, but not with my normal exhortation to learn the facts for yourself. Instead, I will ask each of you to do one thing. Look at your newspapers, listen to your radios, watch your TVs, and check out the web news sites, both domestic and international. Then, decide for yourself. Are the politicians really dealing with the issues that we are paying them to? See if you can determine why they are concentrating on a purely personal family decision, instead of dealing with the things they are supposed to be dealing with. (In my opinion, they shouldn't be dealing with anything, outside the bounds of Art. 1, Sec.8.) Look at the many issues that the government faces, right this moment. Then, you tell me why they are doing this. I invite your comments.


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