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Schiavo, truth and the American way

Commentary by American Life League president Judie Brown

It is frequently said that truth is stranger than fiction. In the case of Michael Schiavo, husband of the now deceased Terri Schiavo, this is precisely correct.

You may recall that during the years that Terri Schiavo suffered from a debilitating condition, Michael worked very hard to acquire legal permission to kill his wife by denying her the basic human right of receiving food and water. He argued that she would not want to be fed through a tube. His view was that she actually died 12 years earlier, and that the person in the hospital bed was not truly alive. Once he succeeded in achieving his goal, and his wife died, it became clear that Schiavo had designs on attaining as much public support and sympathy as possible. In fact, one might say that in the wake of Terri's death, Michael Schiavo was starving – for attention.

He received notoriety due to various awards that pro-death groups chose to give him. He made headlines when a woman in San Francisco was convicted of a crime for posting an internet death threat leveled at Schiavo. The threat read, "If she [Terri] dies, I will kill Michael Schiavo and the judge."

A reporter in Florida claimed that Michael Schiavo, who is a licensed health care provider, was being investigated by medical malpractice authorities due to some alleged misrepresentation on an employment application.

None of this satisfied Schiavo's thirst for recognition; it appeared to know no bounds. In fact, his ego-driven self-absorption has recently launched him into the political realm. He has just announced the formation of the Terri PAC, a political action committee founded to "restore personal freedoms and individual human rights." If you think this is a bit ridiculous, then you are sadly unaware of the immensity of the culture of death into which America is nearly fully immersed.

"Personal freedom" should be based on one's ability to exercise free will and choose between good and evil. This is not the definition currently applied in the United States, however. The majority of our citizenry, for instance, claim a "personal freedom" to murder the innocent preborn child at any point in his life. So it is no surprise that Michael Schiavo is turning to the political realm to make sure that spouses like himself can exercise another aspect of this twisted idea of personal freedom: the "right" to eliminate an inconvenient family member when illness or debilitation strikes.

Some would call that killing. Others would describe it as pure evil. We would hope that very few indeed would perceive it as true "personal freedom." Hope, yes; unfortunately, opinion polls would prove us wrong. The vast majority of Americans condone what Michael Schiavo did to his wife; they also condone taking the lives of preborn children through abortion. It's all about those "personal freedoms" that we Americans supposedly hold so dear.

There's also the sticky subject of "individual rights." Schiavo's announcement suggests that "individual rights" and "personal freedom" are the founding principles of his political action committee. The active component of his effort, however, is gathering support for candidates who support killing the weak and the vulnerable. What, pray tell, is actually at stake? Will anyone challenge Schiavo by inquiring precisely where we are to find the basic individual rights and personal freedoms of those targeted by his goals?

The preborn child is an individual who – according to the likes of Schiavo and most politicians – may not choose to exercise his own rights because he does not have a right to live. So too, according to Schiavo and his supporters, the ill, the severely disabled and the family members who are simply a "drain" have no rights at all, and they surely have no freedom – at least, no freedom from harm.

In Schiavo's view, efforts to save innocent lives are nothing more than political opportunism while those who fall prey to agendas such as his are merely being respected for their individual right to die. As he noted on his new organization's web site, "If our political leaders have taken no lessons from their shameless exploitation of Terri, and the public outcry against it, I have. I have taken my sadness, anger and worry and channeled them into a personal resolution: I will do everything in my power to keep another unsuspecting American family from re-living our private national nightmare."

Excuse me? How could Michael have forgotten the personal agony and the nearly debilitating toll the struggle to protect their daughter took on her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler? It occurs to me that the so-called national nightmare was started by an unloving husband who wished to be free to cavort and beget children with a new mate while denying his wife rehabilitation and care, leaving her to decay. And we are supposed to be thankful that Michael Schiavo is taking his case to the political arena?

C. S. Lewis once wrote, "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

It is my firm conviction that Lewis' words apply totally to the Michael Schiavos of this world. The problem is, of course, that those who support his point of view (most Americans, it would appear) happen to be in a position to make Michael's version of truth become reality, enlarging that wicked comfort zone that will result in hell on earth for the victims. It's the American way.