There seems to be a simple solution to the Terri Schiavo dilemma. I have tried very hard to pass this suggestion on to Florida Governor Bush, the Florida House of Representatives, and the Florida Senate. Unfortunately, there is such a flood of communication; I fear that the message may not get through. It is something that every state in the Union should consider, because this snarl of legal wrangling should not be permitted to fester any longer. If you read this, and you have the means to communicate with anyone who is in a position to make a difference, I would urge you to convey this message to them.
Just to recap why I am motivated by this case, I would like to remind you that Terri Schiavo is not in danger of dying from the injuries she suffered more than ten years ago. She is in danger of dying from the willful, deliberate, and methodical act of starving and dehydrating her until her vital organs fail.
If this happens, it will be at the request of the man who was her husband at the time of her injury. It will happen because the judicial system has backed his right to decide Terri’s fate. He was married to Terri, only six years, which is less than half the time that has passed since she was struck down.
The problem lies in the interpretation of the term; artificial life support. Infants, small children, mentally and physically handicapped, and frail elderly people require help in obtaining nutrition and hydration every single day. Tens of thousands require the administration of this support in a manner other than my mouth.
So to resolve this problem, the Florida legislative bodies need only define, or redefine what is recognized as artificial life support. All they need to do is add some common sense language, which leaves the definition unchanged, but simply excludes the administration of nutrition and hydration from the list of extraordinary measures required to sustain life. This will not change anything for those who do not want to continue life, only by virtue of a mechanical device. Excluding nutrition support will not change the role of artificial breathing apparatus, heart-lung bypass machines, or anything else that prevents immediate death.
Such a legislative change could not be simpler, and it will not cause constitutional problems, as did Governor Bush’s attempt to use his executive powers to interfere in the legal proceedings. The Florida legislators should be able to craft this, pass it, and have the Governors signature in a matter of days.
Once this is done, the entire issue will be ripped from the hands of the courts. Mr. Schiavo should then have no reason to maintain guardianship; thus releasing Terri’s to the care of her blood relatives who have her best interests at heart.
I am not an attorney, nor am I an elected official. I am nothing that would suggest expertise in the area of legislation in Florida or anywhere else. However, I do claim to have a reasonable helping of common sense. If there is an insurmountable problem with what I have proposed here, please do not hesitate to contact me.
My email address is: email@example.com
Copyright ©2005, Phil Harris - All Rights Reserved
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