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The Terri Schiavo case

Published Mar 23, 2005 1:34 PM

The tragedy that befell Terri Schiavo, her husband and her parents when, 15 years ago, she suffered brain damage that left her in a persistent vegetative state, is real enough. According to her doctors, there can be no happy resolution of her condition.

What is not real but is fake, cynical, opportunist and hypocritical in the extreme is the phony concern for human life expressed by right-wing politicians and religious bigots, from President Bush all the way down, who have leaped to make her case a cause célèbre of the misnamed “right to life” movement. Imagine, the pressure from these forces has so much clout in Washington that Congress met in a special session to pass a new law!

A horrible U.S. war has been raging in Iraq for over two years. At least 100,000 people have died and more are dying every day. It’s been proven and admitted that the reasons given for that war were false. Has Congress convened an emergency session to bring the troops home now and stop the killing of Iraqis and GIs?

Malnutrition is a fact of life in the deaths of millions of children every year. A small percentage of the resources the U.S. government spends on the military could end hunger in the world. Does Bush think that his professed concern over replacing this unfortunate woman’s feeding tube will make the world forget his role in perpetuating the hunger of millions?

Bush is said to have “cut short his vacation” and come back from Texas to try to “save the life” of Terri Schiavo. But when he was governor of Texas and approved the execution of 152 people, he never spent more than 30 minutes reviewing a case. He certainly never cut into his vacation time. Some were juveniles, others people with mental and physical disabilities. A number have since been proven innocent. Isn’t it obvious that Bush is using the Schiavo case for an image makeover from Governor Death to President Life?

Decisions about such deeply personal and emotional issues as abortion or when to end life-support measures are hard enough when people are honestly informed of the medical facts and the options. They are made excruciatingly difficult when reactionary political forces that promote religious dogma and scoff at science use them to promote their own agenda.

The working class has plenty of reasons to be skeptical of decisions made by a medical profession that is increasingly dominated by profit-making pharmaceuticals and HMOs. The answer, however, is not to succumb to the medieval thinking of the religious right, but to reorganize medical care and society itself on a caring socialist basis, free of the divisive pressures of capitalism.