Playing Games with Innocent Life; Obama Shamefully Recants Schiavo Vote

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 31, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Playing Games with Innocent Life; Obama Shamefully Recants Schiavo Vote


Byline: Nat Hentoff, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

While Barack Obama is disengaging himself from some of the sulfurously disuniting remarks of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, he has shown in a February debate with Hillary Clinton - his own disturbing ignorance of why disability-rights communities across the nation so vigorously protested the official starvation and dehydration of disabled Terri Schiavo. I described this as "the longest public execution in American History."

When moderator Tim Russert asked Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama if "there are any words or votes that you'd like to take back... in your careers in public service," Mr Obama answered that in his first year in the Senate, he joined an agreement "that allowed Congress to interject itself (in the Schiavo case) into the decision-making process of the families." Mr. Obama added: "I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better." When he was a professor of constitutional law, Mr. Obama probably instructed his students to research and know all the facts of a case.

The reason Congress asked the federal courts to review the Schiavo case was that the 41-year-old woman about to be dehydrated and starved to death was breathing normally on her own and was not terminal. There was medical evidence that she was responsive, not in a persistent vegetative state.

One of the leading congressional advocates of judicial review was staunchly liberal Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, because he is deeply informed about disability rights. By contrast, in all of this inflamed controversy, the mainstream media performed miserably, copying each other's errors instead of doing their own investigations of what Terri's wishes actually were. Consequently, most Americans did not know that 29 major national disability-rights organizations filed legal briefs and lobbied Congress to understand that this was not a right-to-die case, but one about the right to continue living.

Among them were: The National Spinal Cord Injury Association; the National Down Syndrome Congress; the World Association of Persons with Disabilities; Not Dead Yet; and the largest American assembly of disability-rights activists, the American Association of People with Disabilities. AAPD's head, Andrew J. Imparato, has testified before the Senate that: "When we start devaluing the lives of people with disabilities, we don't know where that's going to stop. You also need to take into account the financial implications of all of this.

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Playing Games with Innocent Life; Obama Shamefully Recants Schiavo Vote
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