A PRESIDENTIAL CONFLICT
I have not actually taken an opinion on the Terri Schiavo case, although I have kept up with it for some time. Here in Tampa Bay, where the case has been fought for over a decade, you can't help but hear or read about it. I do, however, understand the differing points of view.
That said, I firmly believe that Congress should not be involving itself in this situation because it usurps not only the judicial process, but also a state's right to make it's own policy. Judge Greer in Pinellas County has made decisions based on the Florida Statutes, irrespective of political or religious considerations. That is what a judge does, based on the law governing the case.Blogwood
, a Tampa-based blog which has fallen on the side of Schiavo's husband Michael, points out some interesting contridictions between some of the talk and the action in this case:
1) Here is President Bush's statement on this case
:The case of Terri Schiavo raises complex issues. Yet in instances like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life.
2) White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales
, who served as Chief Legal Counsel for then-Governor Bush in Texas, prepared memoranda on the issues in death penalty cases which could prompt Bush to possibly grant clemency or allow the execution to proceed. In Atlantic Monthly
magazine, author Alan Berlow writes:"During Bush's six years as governor 150 men and two women were executed in Texas, a record unmatched by any other governor in modern American history.
"From 1995 to 1997, Gonzales acted as his legal counsel when the then-Governor decided whether to grant clemency, or to allow the executions to go forward. What kind of counsel did Gonzales provide? According to Berlow, he "repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence."
3) One of the primary groups supporting Mrs. Schiavo's parents in seeking to reconnect her feeding tube, National Right To Life
, helped negotiate a law passed in 1999 and amended two years later
. The legislation allows a hospital to withdraw life support from a patient, even over the objection of family, when it is determined that further care is futile. The family has ten days to find another facility to take their family member, and the hospital or other facility must make a good faith effort to do the same. Then-Governor Bush had vetoed a similar bill in 1997 at the request of some members of the religious right, according to Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief
, at the time a state senator who had sponsored the bill.§ 166.046. PROCEDURE IF NOT EFFECTUATING A DIRECTIVE OR TREATMENT DECISION. (a) If an attending physician refuses to honor a patient's advance directive or a health care or treatment decision made by or on behalf of a patient, the physician's refusal shall be reviewed by an ethics or medical committee. The attending physician may not be a member of that committee. The patient shall be given life-sustaining treatment during the review. (b) The patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the individual who has made the decision regarding the directive or treatment decision: (1) may be given a written description of the ethics or medical committee review process and any other policies and procedures related to this section adopted by the health care facility; (2) shall be informed of the committee review process not less than 48 hours before the meeting called to discuss the patient's directive, unless the time period is waived by mutual agreement; (3) at the time of being so informed, shall be provided: (A) a copy of the appropriate statement set forth in Section 166.052; and (B) a copy of the registry list of health care providers and referral groups that have volunteered their readiness to consider accepting transfer or to assist in locating a provider willing to accept transfer that is posted on the website maintained by the Texas Health Care Information Council under Section 166.053; and (4) is entitled to: (A) attend the meeting; and (B) receive a written explanation of the decision reached during the review process. (c) The written explanation required by Subsection (b)(2)(B) must be included in the patient's medical record. (d) If the attending physician, the patient, or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the individual does not agree with the decision reached during the review process under Subsection (b), the physician shall make a reasonable effort to transfer the patient to a physician who is willing to comply with the directive. If the patient is a patient in a health care facility, the facility's personnel shall assist the physician in arranging the patient's transfer to: (1) another physician; (2) an alternative care setting within that facility; or (3) another facility. (e) If the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient is requesting life-sustaining treatment that the attending physician has decided and the review process has affirmed is inappropriate treatment, the patient shall be given available life-sustaining treatment pending transfer under Subsection (d). The patient is responsible for any costs incurred in transferring the patient to another facility. The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written decision required under Subsection (b) is provided to the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient unless ordered to do so under Subsection (g). (e-1) If during a previous admission to a facility a patient's attending physician and the review process under Subsection (b) have determined that life-sustaining treatment is inappropriate, and the patient is readmitted to the same facility within six months from the date of the decision reached during the review process conducted upon the previous admission, Subsections (b) through (e) need not be followed if the patient's attending physician and a consulting physician who is a member of the ethics or medical committee of the facility document on the patient's readmission that the patient's condition either has not improved or has deteriorated since the review process was conducted. (f) Life-sustaining treatment under this section may not be entered in the patient's medical record as medically unnecessary treatment until the time period provided under Subsection (e) has expired. (g) At the request of the patient or the person responsible for the health care decisions of the patient, the appropriate district or county court shall extend the time period provided under Subsection (e) only if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there is a reasonable expectation that a physician or health care facility that will honor the patient's directive will be found if the time extension is granted. (h) This section may not be construed to impose an obligation on a facility or a home and community support services agency licensed under Chapter 142 or similar organization that is beyond the scope of the services or resources of the facility or agency. This section does not apply to hospice services provided by a home and community support services agency licensed under Chapter 142.Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 450, § 1.03, eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1228, § 3, 4, eff. June 20, 2003.
And under the provisions of this bill, a critically ill five month old baby died shortly after he was taken off life support Tuesday afternoon
, according to Houston's NBC affiliate KPRC-TV. No facility was found with the ten day provision to take the young boy who had a fatal genetic disorder, thanatophoric dysplasia, a condition characterized by a tiny chest and lungs too small to support life.
Again, I do not have an opinion on this situation, but the politicians should not immerse itself in an issue which belongs in the courts. Those congressional representatives who are advocating the bill to be debated later today/tonight and voted on after midnight are primarily doing so to pander to the religious right. And that's sad.