I was astonished, appalled and grieved by the recent action taken by Congress and the White House regarding the life-and-death issues brought into focus by Terri Schiavo’s sad condition in Florida.
This complex situation involves medical questions and legal considerations far too complex for any of us to address without more information. Neither members of Congress nor any of us have any business seeking to dictate procedures for members of a grieving family and numerous doctors, lawyers and courts that already have considered the familial, medical, legal and personal issues involved in this situation and attempted to address them with fundamental moral, medical and legal values.
A tragic situation is being made more tragic by the insensitive intrusion into it by Washington politicians seeking yet another venue for speaking to their partisan constituencies and for strengthening their political “base.” For Congress and the White House to jump into this tragic situation at the last minute, after years of court proceedings, and to take a position on the value of life so inconsistent with, if not contradictory to, many of their other decisions, represents unconscionable meddling in the private decision of an American family – a family that needs our thoughts and prayers, not a spirit of blatant judgment and not-too-subtle politicization.
I find myself disturbed by many questions. Are there no limits on the intrusive reach of this government? Where will Washington go next? Do claims of both religious and political authority give a government the right to invade the spheres of personal autonomy and religious independence? How long will the American public wait for such questions to be answered?