Terri Schiavo has been front page news. The media have bombarded us with it for weeks now. We didn’t write the story this week because you’ve already read it, or heard it, or seen it, and there’s little news left to tell as we go to print.
But it’s a compelling story, a personal and heart-wrenching one that has given us all a few serious thoughts over the last weeks.
The truth is, nothing has really changed in Schiavo’s life since 1990, other than the courtroom her case is being fought in and which government official is currently getting involved.
Her husband and parents have been locked in a bitter battle over her right to die or be kept alive for nearly a decade now, and it’s come down to the courts now because Terri does not have a living will.
Congressional and governmental intervention has done little other than to anger the majority of this country who believe her husband should have the right to carry out her wishes, regardless of the lack of legalese on file. How many new legal documents have been generated because Terri never signed one, a living will? While most of us hate to contemplate death, we should all be rushing out to file a living will and help prevent this sad story from being retold in the future.
No one can say this story hasn’t touched them in some way, and unearthed 1.000 questions we’d prefer not to think about. Despite whatever personal feelings you may have on the matter, you should be outraged that your government would try to step in and decide how you are to live…or die.
We know the story would be different if Terri were single, or gay, or an orphan. Lacking either parents or a spouse, there would be no debate. It would be vastly different if there was a simple piece of paper expressing her wishes. Regardless of all this, the fact is that sometimes, the personal is just the personal and the political is just the political, and the government should just stay away.
Congress and the courts have no business deciding these questions for us. Politicians are using Terri, her husband, and her family, solely for political gain, and we should be outraged at the pull the religious/political right has had in this issue. But then again, somewhere there has to be a regulation of who gets to decide for you when you can’t represent yourself.
Currently, your spouse is your primary next of kin, even if you’ve only been married a week and you met that special someone on your Spring Break trip to Vegas, and the issues surrounding that are vast. Without something from you, saying what you want, there’s a possibility your wishes won’t be carried out, even if you tell your loved ones what they are.