I was surprised to hear Terri Schiavo’s name come up during last night’s GOP debate. The question was why the government should have more say in medical decisions than a spouse.
I followed the Schiavo case closely and was horrified at its outcome. Terri’s death seemed so completely unnecessary and unbearably cruel. Her parents were eager and able to care for her. There was no written directive or “do not resuscitate” order in place. There was only a husband with another life to live and a judge who thought his robe gave him the authority to make a determination from the bench to end the life of an innocent woman.
It’s ironic that the question had to do with who should have “more say,” when the one person whose life was on the line ended up having no say at all.
And while I initially thought this would be an opportunity to discuss inherent human dignity in the public square, I was disappointed by the responses of the three candidates who fielded the Schiavo question.
They all punted – Santorum and Gingrich to the federal courts and Paul, not surprisingly, to the states.
The order to put Terri Schiavo to death would not have been any more palatable if it had come from a federal judge or a state legislature – or for that matter, the president himself.
Each candidate professes to be more “pro-life” than the other, yet not one could say with clarity that the state may not deprive innocent persons of their right to life. Period.
Human life is not measured in degrees. Our founding documents are based on the premise that all people are created equal and that they possess certain rights – beginning with the right to life itself – that cannot be indiscriminately revoked. Diminishing – or in this case, abolishing – fundamental constitutional protections because of arbitrary criteria is the epitome of injustice.
Our Constitution is only safe to the extent that it is applied equally to all. The slave trade, the Trail of Tears, the Killing Fields and the trains to Auschwitz all began with a single thought: some people are more human than others.