Monday, March 21, 2005

Lifting the Lid

The Washington Post's latest story about the legislation to save Terri Schiavo contains a quote so burlesque in its stupidity, so pungent with dramatic irony, that it might have been written by Sophocles.

Frist called the measure "a unique bill" that "should not serve as a precedent for future legislation."
Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law a measure which requires a federal judge to investigate medical and legal questions over whether it was right and proper to remove a feeding tube from Schiavo's body.

There are at any given time thousands of families agonizing over the same and similar decisions. Hope dies hard. At best, it is naive for Bill Frist to suggest that this law will not establish a precedent. At worst, it is a malevolent and obtuse exploitation of one family's tragedy for partisan political gain.

In a memo distributed only to Republican senators, the Schiavo case was characterized as "a great political issue" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.
What parent or child or spouse facing a similar tragedy would not see this legislation as lifeline? Why, they will ask, is this mercy bestowed on Terri Schiavo only? How will Dr. Frist answer?