The Terri Schiavo Tragedy

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

For what it's worth: On March 31, 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that coma patient Karen Ann Quinlan could be disconnected from her respirator. It was the first U.S. case to establish a right to cease medical treatment based on the U.S. Constitution's (implied) "right of privacy."

DANIEL P. QUINN

St. Petersburg, Fla.

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Those who appear to stoically accept the judicially decreed fatal dehydration of Terri Schiavo belie an unsettling apprehension that something abysmally wrong has taken place.

This stoicism is mostly because they continue to seek comfort in the dubious certainty that at least Mrs. Schiavo did not endure any suffering as she faded into eternity. This is something that, I am afraid, only Mrs. Schiavo knew, in spite of what science may proclaim today.

This self-assurance probably serves as a temporary absolving method by which they may alleviate some measure of guilt at having turned their faces away from what was in the end the slow murder of an innocent human being.

We also can speculate, to no avail, about Michael Schiavo's motivations for holding fast to the prerogative of denying his wife the opportunity to live.

Yet neither Mr. Schiavo nor anyone else can escape his impending encounter with the one to whom we will all have to answer for our personal stance on the matter. Of that we can be absolutely certain, for Terri Schiavo's course also will be ours someday.

Godspeed, Terri.

MIGUEL A. GUANIPA

Whitinsville, Mass.

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Wesley Pruden is right on target with "The story ends, the story begins" (Pruden on Politics, yesterday).

Human life is very cheap these days. It's a sad time in our country when some decide that food and water are "extraordinary means" to keep alive a helpless individual who could and should receive help.

You have to be pretty low to pick on someone like her. Also pathetic was to see and hear Michael Schiavo's mouthpiece on national TV proudly proclaim that the woman he had just helped dehydrate to death "died with dignity" and then try to defend it.

What was done to Mrs. Schiavo was depraved and barbaric - she should have been ministered to rather than murdered by dehydration. No dog, criminal or terrorist would be treated this way.

It seems to me that in the eyes of her husband and the courts, her crime was "wrongful life." How logical is it to believe an adulterous husband would look out for his unwanted wife's wishes?

My sympathies and prayers go to her parents, Mary and Bob Schindler - what an ordeal they went through. I pray that they lean hard on God and that He shower them with His love, mercy and grace; may God also heal our nation and give us a renewed and right value for human life.

DEAN GILKEY

Woodbridge, Va.

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I admire Michael Schiavo. He spent the first seven years after his wife's collapse doing everything imaginable to save her - even training as a nurse.

In the face of enormous pressure and even death threats, he was determined to carry out his wife's wishes not to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state with no real consciousness or chance of recovery.

The easy path for him would have been to divorce her, walk away and give her to her parents, but he couldn't do that because he knew they would not respect her wishes to die with dignity if she were ever in such a condition. He did not take the easy path. He bravely fought for what he knew she wanted.

WILLIAM STOSINE

Iowa City

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It is outrageous that upon the death of Terri Schiavo, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offered his condolences only to her parents and siblings. Conspicuous in its absence was any expression of sympathy to Mrs. Schiavo's husband, the ugly and obvious implication being an unfounded belief that Michael Schiavo is not grieving and that he is a villain in this mess. …