From the April 2005 Idaho Observer:
Rest in peace, Terry
by Don Harkins
Before I say anything else, let me say, "Goodbye, Terry. I pray your life paved a blessed path for your soul."
To the rest of us silly people who are so incapable of handling our own affairs, we must enlist the state to handle them for us: "We get what we deserve."
Terry died March 31, 2005, after 14 days without food or water. She may not have been able to scream in agony for all to hear, but the state got to decide her fate because those involved were too preoccupied with their own dysfunctionality to be decent. One can imagine Terry’s last 14 days on earth were state-ordered hell. Fortunately for us, we never had to hear her silent screams.
"Terry Schiavo’s parents decided to take care of their daughter at their own expense so the 41-year-old woman, who has been hospitalized in a vegetative state for 15 years, was released from the hospital and finally taken home today."
The statement in italics above should have been the published outcome and the end of public involvement in the case of Terry Schiavo.
Everything else proved our society has descended to inanities so deep one must wonder why we continue breathing on our own without first securing permission from the state.
While it was happening, each email and every headline associated with what should have been an intimate family affair handled by reasonable adults just added to my disgust; for some reason it prompted me to wonder, "Whatever happened to John Wayne Bobbitt?"
Since it’s all over now and we are preoccupied with rising gas prices and other crises of the day, we can reflect on the lessons of this event and marvel at how it was this woman’s fate to draw an arrow on the map of our contemporary existence to say, "YOU ARE HERE":
1. If asked, government will pull the plug on those for whom it no longer has any use.
2. Whenever government is called in to rule on issues we should, as honorable men and women, be able to handle ourselves (in the interest of decency, compassion and time-honored traditions of fair play), it rules in the best interests of government—where lies, deceit and authority reign supreme.
3. Families no longer have the right to decide the type of care sick people will receive. Terry was kept alive for 15 years—as a vegetable; she was given just enough nutrition to keep her vital signs going. What if megadoses of vitamins, amino acids and minerals would have pulled her out of this vegetative state? What if she had regained consciousness and had the desire to physically rehabilitate herself and her parents were willing to fund the rehabilitation?
I guess we will never know because Florida Judge George Greer pulled her plug.
4. The laws of the state of Florida regarding adultery and marriage no longer apply. After all this time and, considering his new life (a girlfriend and children), Michael Schiavo and the laws of Florida, Terry was no longer married. So why did this man have any say in what happened to her? And, even if he was still legally married to her and had the authority to decide her fate, why didn’t he just let Terry’s parents take their daughter home?
5. Americans are more concerned about the fate of one vegetative woman than the fates of thousands of innocent people being bombed into oblivion under pretenses that have been proven utterly false.
My Practical Living Will
In light of the recent Terri Schiavo fiasco, I was inspired to write up my own living will. As I wrote it, it seemed appropriate to share this with others who were also concerned about the possibility, however remote, of a future on life support machinery.
IO Reporter at large in Maine
I, _________________________, being of sound mind
and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by any artificial
Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of peckerhead
politicians who couldn’t pass ninth-grade biology if their lives
depended on it.
If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to sit up and ask for a
cold beer, it should be presumed that I won’t do so ever again. When
such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children
and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.
Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a
special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that
these boneheads mind their own damn business, and pay attention instead
to the health, education and future of the millions of Americans who
aren’t in a permanent coma and who, nonetheless, may be in need of
Under no circumstances shall any politicians butt into this case. I
don’t care how many fundamentalist votes they’re trying to scrounge for
their run for the presidency in 2008; it is my wish that they play
politics with someone else’s life and leave me alone to die in peace.
I couldn’t care less if a hundred religious zealots send emails to
legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don’t know these
people, and I certainly haven’t authorized them to preach and/or crusade
on my behalf. They should mind their own damn business, too.
If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a
political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make
his or her existence a living hell.
Note: We realize that millions of well-meaning people invested a lot of emotional energy into the Shiavo case. We also realize that the position one must take to draft "My Practical Living Will" (even if it was satirically-intended) may seem insulting to those who protested the actions of the godless state on moral grounds.
But, before composing an angry letter to The IO editor, ignore the media hype that propelled this phenomenon and put yourself in that hospital bed. Then ask yourself, "What is the appropriate public response in such cases?" (DWH)
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