Drawn toward Death

For Terri Schindler-Schiavo, time is running out. The brain-damaged woman's feeding tube was removed Wednesday after a Florida court refused her parents' final appeal. At the request of her husband, Michael Schiavo, Terri was not permitted therapy that doctors say might have improved her health and allowed her to eat and drink on her own. Barring an intervention by the governor of Florida, whose legal team is trying to find some way around the court's decision, Terri has less than two weeks left to live. You may have followed the story in the media. It is a heartbreaking one -- and frightening. The fight over her right to live, and our society's reactions to that fight, illustrate just how cheaply we now hold human life. As I reported two years ago on this program, Michael Schiavo's fight to disconnect his wife's feeding tube was marked throughout by dishonesty and conflict of interest. But over and over again, the burden of proof has been placed on Terri's parents and siblings, who have fought for years to keep her alive. Michael's attorneys claim that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, even though numerous doctors have testified that she is conscious and her family has videotapes of her responding to them. Additionally, her husband Michael has used money from Terri's medical fund in his battle to end her life. And he has been engaged for several years to a woman who is now pregnant with their second child. Come on. Despite all this, Michael Schiavo has won a long series of legal battles, including this last one. The courts and many in the media have been on his side, and the reason is clear: Michael Schiavo has made himself into a poster boy for the "right to die" movement. He and his lawyer -- who is active in that movement -- have insisted all along that they were acting for Terri's benefit, trying to keep her from suffering. These days, that kind of argument is all it takes to win the sympathy of our society and our legal system. In a bizarre paradox, we're now turning on our weakest and most helpless citizens in the name of protecting them. Terri's court-assisted murder -- and that's exactly what it is -- is a perfect example of the clash of two worldviews. One holds that we evolved out of nothing, meaning that no human life is truly sacred. And as we continue to evolve toward some future hypothetical state of perfection, disabled people like Terri Schiavo have no place. Since she doesn't meet the prevailing "quality of life" standard, we can do away with her as we please. Unless Governor Bush acts in the next few days, Terri will starve to death. What can the governor do? He can, on the basis of reports of abuse and neglect filed with adult protective services, provide foster custody to Terri under the state of Florida. Call us here at BreakPoint (1-877-3-CALLBP) for information on how you can contact Governor Bush. Jeb Bush is a good friend of mine and a solid Christian. I greatly respect him, and I'm counting on him. As my friend Joni Eareckson Tada, who is in Florida at the moment, writes, " . . . we need the governor to step in. The state can provide foster custody to Terri and thus prevent this horrible course of action . . . this execution of a woman whose only crime is that she is mentally disabled." Take action: Contact Governor Jeb Bush and urge him to intervene on behalf of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, providing her foster custody under the state of Florida. You can e-mail or you can call: 850-488-7146. For further reading and information: Read more about Terri Schindler-Schiavo. Read Governor Bush's amicus memorandum filed on behalf of Terri Schiavo. Read Joni Eareckson Tada's remarks on the Schiavo case. George Graham, "Bush Asks Legal Team to Intervene in Schiavo Case," Tampa Bay Online, 15 October 2003. Wesley J. Smith, "No Mercy in Florida," Weekly Standard, 20 October 2003. (Subscription required to access article.) Wesley J. Smith, "Schiavo's Date with Death," National Review Online, 5 September 2003. Janet L. Folger, "Speaking Out: Why I Believe in Divorce," Christianity Today, 16 October 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 010731, "A Deadly Compassion: Terri Schiavo and the Culture of Death." (Archived commentary; free registration required.) BreakPoint Commentary No. 030113, "Who Killed Grandpa?: 'Therapeutic Death in Dutch Nursing Home." Lynn Vincent, "Till Death Do Us Part," WORLD, 21 July 2001. At the Wilberforce Forum Dinner on February 6, 2003, Joni Eareckson Tada offered a rousing speech, emboldening Christians to take a stand for the dignity and sanctity of all human life. She shared her personal testimony, her work with Joni and Friends, a ministry for the disabled, and her advocacy in Washington, D.C. Her remarks provide ample reason for Christians to speak up in the culture and public square. The "BreakPoint Culture of Life" packet includes the Family Research Council booklet, "Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life," and a "BreakPoint This Week" CD interview with William Saunders of Family Research Council in which he discusses what citizens can do to make a difference for life. The CD also includes a speech by Dr. Robert George, "Bioethics and the Clash of Orthodoxies." Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit (Spence, 2003). Arthur J. Dyck, Life's Worth (Eerdmans, 2002). Phillip E. Johnson, The Right Questions (InterVarsity, 2002).


Chuck Colson


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