(This is an archive written by the late Leslie Centanni. July, 2005) Well, the day of reckoning is at hand. You wouldn't know it from scanning the mainstream media, digging through internet news, or even perusing the more popular blogs. But that fateful day has arrived nonetheless, my friends, and every single one of us better sit up and take notice.
Nine days from now, on February 22, a singular magistrate in Florida has ruled that a defenseless disabled woman, guilty of no crime, recuperating from injuries she received through no fault of her own, who simply needs help eating, is to die. George Greer, Michael Schiavo, and George Peros: these three men have become unwitting conspirators by way of their conjoined efforts to end the life of a harmless disabled person. By blocking her immutable right to personal representation, she is now to be starved into an unjust grave, simply so these people can file the case closed, pick up their checks, and write their books. Complicit in this insanity is the legislature of the victim's state, and law enforcement officials marching in lockstep with judicial authorities claiming "duty" as their master.
This action, the final disposition upon which may rest the integrity of our society forever, and the most profound dilemma we as a people and nation will ever confront, crystallizes the continued unraveling of every American's most fundamental rights.. that of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The phenomena that makes these men guilty of this offense is the unholy union of their individual aspirations:
- George Greer, the unjust judge, because of his arrogant refusal to admit he made a mistake in his original ruling to allow Terri Schaivo's death so many years ago, to have the entire case revisited to determine the circumstances surrounding her demise, and because of his outright rejection of her inalienable right to personal representation in defense of her life;
- Michael Schiavo, the crocodile-teared, shadowy, adulterating husband, because he's shown himself to be morally bankrupt by reason of withholding recuperative treatment and instead using most of the money to fight for her termination, and because he stands credibly accused of having caused Terri's problem in the first place; and,
- George Peros, the megalomaniacal lawyer with a vulture's persistence who, because of his thirst for power and fame, and his long history of extremist beliefs in ending the lives of people unable to care for themselves, has lost any sense of decency and human compassion.
If these men are allowed to prevail in this travesty of justice, we will have reached the beginning of the end. The precedent will have been set, and the only question left will be.. who's next? Grandma? Grandpa? Your sick mom or dad? How about your child? Maybe one day it will be you or me.
If we become sick or injured, are we prepared to rescind our basic human and intrinsically American rights the minute we become disabled? There are thousands of people just like you and I who survive only because of scientific advances of medical technology and the love of their families. They have been in car accidents, industrial accidents, or are victims of crimes. They have been hurt, injured, almost killed, only to be brought back from certain death, some to make a full recovery many years later. They have gotten sick because of misdiagnosed maladies and wrong medications. They may be suffering the ramifications of surgery or anesthesia gone wrong. They have contracted viruses, caught diseases, had aneurisms, breathed polluted air, drank contaminated water, been bitten by snakes or bugs, or exposed to the elements of fire and ice. In fact, they may have been born "that way." Where do we begin to draw the line as to who lives and who dies, and to whom shall we give the pen and paper?
There are millions of reasons to save this person's life, and they all boil down to you and me. If a law isn't found or made to protect this one person, the law won't protect any of us, and we'll have no one but ourselves to blame. Should we have removed Christopher Reeve's breathing tube because he couldn't breathe on his own? In my heart, I can't believe that any but the truly delusional amongst us would want a judicial fiat to set forth laws that mandate the death of a loved one or of ourselves before we've reached our place of natural demise. Why must this woman die now? There is no reason. Recent visits indicate she isn't suffering, and her estranged husband's comments regarding her wishes are purely hearsay. In word and in deed, the law must allow life, and further, the law may not incur death upon a disabled, helpless person, or any other innocent or dependent life, because that would violate the most important laws of the right to life, liberty, and personal happiness.
When I close my eyes at night, I can rest peacefully because I know I am cared for, watched over, and loved. My children rest peacefully because they believe, as surely as the sun will rise, that they are safe and sound in their soft little beds. And at the end of each day, every person in the world enters into their place of rest, and hopes for dreams undisturbed by the ugly things of the world. We go to sleep believing we will wake up and start all over again. That isn't something I'm willing to give up. Would you be able to sleep at night if, at any hour, some glorified court clerk could make the decision to stop giving you medicine, stop feeding you, or stop you from holding the hands of your children, mom or dad as you suffer, or even as you slip from this world to the next?
If there are unanswered questions surrounding the circumstance of your disability, especially if your spouse or caregiver is in any way suspected of causing your demise, should you not be given the benefit of personal representation? Common sense dictates and moral justice demands that Judge Greer reverse his decision immediately, or that it be allowed to go up for appeal. Otherwise, a new law to protect the rights of the disabled to representation must be written immediately. The ACLU has a mission of assuring civil rights, but they are glaringly missing from the picture. We owe it to ourselves, and the integrity of our nation and our people, to save the life of this one tiny soul struggling to find her way back to the world she left. She must be permitted to disconnect herself from the politics of death, and allowed to rest peacefully in her bed every night of her life for the rest of her life. Just like you and me.
But this battle for the right to live shines a revealing light on more than just euthanasia of the sick and disabled. It persists into the ruinous world of the discarded unborn, on to the sad practice of selective breeding, a modern day form of eugenic genocide, and into those dark corners where assisted suicide can sometimes masquerade as a fully rationalized means of washing ones hands of the whole matter. It's a sad fact that the truly radical ideas always seem to focus on endings, not alternatives. But there is room for greater understanding, for advancements that will ensure each one of us a dignified life, no matter what form it takes, and we are fully able to find the means by which to guarantee we receive comfort and care from people who won't hurt us, and a sense of security if we are suddenly made helpless by life's circumstance. It's time for new ideas, better goals, and a deeper sensitivity to each other as human beings and individuals of worth.
One other thing: Keep in mind the big business angle as you ponder the gravity of this critically important issue. There are a lot of people who stand to make a lot of money creating businesses focused on the industry of euthanasia. They will use any venue to exercise their right to employ "legal" means of propagating the destruction of the feeble, sick, elderly, and imperfect among us, all the while telling us that "it's for their own good." Consider your place in this scenario, and see if you can imagine yourself or someone you love being left to die "for your own good." If you can make that leap, then you can buy their stock and whistle all the way to the bank. That is, of course, until they come for you.