Sunday, March 27, 2005
Thomas Sowell writes an editorial by that name in today's Washington Times. Too bad (for him) it is Sowell who is confused.

Sowell's first point is to dispute those who say Terri Schiavo's death is gentle, by looking at how non-vegetative people have been described when dying of starvation. But this misses the point - Terri Schiavo is in a PVS - she has no cognitive ability and doesn't have the ability to know she is starving (nor does she feel any effects from it).

Sowell asks if this is such a painless process why not videotape it. Perhaps because at least some people actually care about Terri Schiavo and do not want to destroy any more of her dignity? Perhaps because some people have minimal respect for other people? (One could just as easily make the absurd request that if starving to death is so painful, why doesn't Mr. Sowell starve himself to death and videotape it. I will refrain from saying any more - but this suggestion of videotaping her death is disgusting to say the least - and shows Mr. Sowell doesn't care about Terri Schiavo at all).

Mr. Sowell doesn't probably know this, but people who have actually taken the time to read about this case in detail (like myself) know that it is undisputed that Terri Schiavo was a very self-conscious person, who, according to her husband and his brother (Terri's brother-in-law) "would have been mortified" by being videotaped in her condition and having it shown publicly (and seen by so many).

And Mr. Sowell also didn't do his research on who testified as to Terri's wishes (something one can learn in about 2 minutes via google, or via lexis and a quick review of the reported appellate decisions). Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, and both her brother-in-law and sister-in-law all testified that Terri Schiavo had made comments about not being kept alive in this type of a situation. Sure someone could argue that the other two are lying or misremembering to support their brother (although I can't think of any motivation for that), but you have to know that they testified first before you can argue that. (what a shocking suggestion - know the facts before taking a position on a case....)

Sowell writes:
This case is one where many people speak with certainty about very uncertain things -- and the certainties of one side contradict the certainties of the other.
True, but fortunately some of us (unlike Sowell) at least try to learn the facts that are available before spouting off.

Sowell then closes with this preposterous argument (that again shows he has no knowledge of the facts of the case):
Terri Schiavo is being killed because she is inconvenient to her husband and is inconvenient to those who do not want the idea of the sanctity of life strengthened and become an impediment to abortion. Nor do they want the supremacy of judges challenged, when judges are the liberals' last refuge.
Why would the husband go through all of this if he is only doing it to stop being "inconvenienced?" He could have walked away from this years ago and let the parents become Terri's guardian. So why didn't he? There are 3 possible responses (two that are clearly wrong). The Sowell's of the world assert one (or both) of these two possibilities: (1) the money from the malpractice suit; or (2) because Michael Schiavo is the one who caused the incident in 1990. Besides being absurd, both are factually wrong.

As to the first, the money is essentially all gone, so that can't be the continuing motivation. As to the second, people who argue this simply do not understand forensic medicine. 15 years after-the-fact there would be no evidence of anything. And frankly, there is no credible evidence that the husband had anything to do with this in the first place. (During the litigation there were similar unsubstantiated allegations of abuse, and those allegations were rejected by police investigators) This accusation is just a slanderous act of desperation by the pro-life ideologies most likely.

The third possibility - the only one with logical support that is not contradicted by the facts - is that Michael Schiavo is doing this because it is what he believes Terri wanted. Imagine that, someone who actually cares about Terri.

In short, besides being disgusting, Sowell's editorial is meritless and shows a shocking lack of knowledge of the facts. Apparently human dignity is not part of the pro-life agenda - at least not as exemplified by Sowell.
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I am an attorney in Chicago. Politically speaking, I am an indepedent that tends to lean conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues. I try to remain as unbiased and open-minded as possible. Please email or post any comments, and especially criticisms. If something I say is wrong, or you disagree - let me know about it!



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