Thursday, November 5, 2009

No Rest for the Wearying: The Lavish Abuse of Michael Schiavo.

Michael Schiavo remains a boogeyman to many "pro-life" organizations and individuals, as proven by this extensive and tinged story in NorthCountryGazette. It has been very easy for those who disagreed with removing Terri Schiavo from life support to demonize Michael Schiavo as a disloyal husband, a liar and a cheat, a vain man in search of publicity.

While I think there may be much truth to Schiavo's questionable character, most of the criticism he receives is for his non-compliance with fundamental or "tradition" ideas of family. The facts of the Schiavo case remain consistent. A woman was on life support in a persistent vegetative state (a diagnosis the Schindler family continues to contest, they prefer to say Terri was severely disabled) for 15 years. Some, including Michael Schiavo, the medical proxy for his wife, felt that the best thing to do was remove Terri from artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH).

On October 24th, I went to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation's annual conference, held this year in Scranton, to hear Bobby Schindler, a full time speaker and writer against what he calls euthanasia or killing, tell the adoring audience about his sister's "murder." (You can read my article on that experience here.)

There's no doubt that both sides feel they were doing what was best for Terri. Legally, Michael Schiavo was her health care proxy. Opponents of assisted suicide (now legal in three states) will erroneously continue to use the case of Terri Schiavo as example of the "slippery slope" our "culture of death" is on. And their conflation of the case with assisted suicide, aid in dying, euthanasia, medical proxies, choice in dying, living wills, end of life consultations, and elder care choice will continue to be in part convolutedly based on the character of Michael Schiavo as representative of their opponents.

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