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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Sometimes I'm prompted to write more often...

Every once in a while, there is an issue that I just have to put down into words, rather than discuss or argue or theorize...I have a group of internet-buds who often help by listening to(then disagreeing with) me. Today, I just need to vent...

There's a woman in Tampa Florida...you may have heard the story, or at least part of it, by now...her name is Terri. Terri's story, in brief, is as follows:

"Terri was 26 years old when she suffered brain damage from a sudden collapse. Terri receives her food and water by means of a feeding tube. Terri's other bodily functions are physically stable. Terri smiles, laughs and cries. Terri recognizes voices and responds. At times, she vocalizes sounds, trying in her best way to speak. Terri is not a brain dead vegetable as characterized by her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo nor a houseplant as implied by his attorney. Terri is not on a respirator or any artificial life support. She is a living human being and needs to be granted an opportunity to recover. Terri has not had any progressive rehabilitation or arousal therapy in more than ten years."

For ten years, this woman's husband has refused to allow her any therapy, and has refused to allow Terri's parents, family, and friends to provide any therapy for her, even though there is strong evidence that Terri's condition could be greatly improved with such effort. There are several instances where someone in Terri's condition has been taught to eat and drink without artificial tubes, and then progressed from there. As a recent article stated, "over a dozen prominent doctors and therapists have stated under oath that she is not in a persistent vegetative state and with therapy could be rehabilitated".

Of course, oaths mean so little these days, especially in court.

Now, the husband has convinced the courts to remove the feeding tube; effectively a death sentence for someone who has committed no crime. And the punishment will be effected in a most cruel and unusual way: starvation and dehydration. Terri will die, slowly, over the next 7 to 20 days. Her family will be by her side for perhaps two weeks or more, knowing that Terri has at least some knowledge of where she is, what is going on. That family will hold her hand as she starves, perhaps wondering why her mommy and daddy would refuse to feed her.

It is barbaric, and sickening. I've found myself crying throughout the day today. Crying for a woman who is being treated like "a houseplant". Tears for the family who loves their daughter and only wish to provide appropriate medical care. Tears for a society so devoted to a culture of death.

I must confess though, that I have no tears for Terri's scum-bastard of a husband and his marrow-sucking lawyers. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

That the courts ordered Terri's feeding tube to be removed on September 15, which is the Catholic Feast of St. Theresa (Terri's namesake), is bitter indeed. And, I dare say, not mere coincidence.

We have visited the Tampa area several times in recent years. My in-laws live there in the winter. I wish I was there now. I would be tempted to go and physically attempt to do what I can only ask in prayer right now. I would certainly be at the prayer vigil for Terri right now. And, frankly, I would lay down my freedom to join any group that wishes to intervene on Terri's behalf in a display of peaceful civil disobedience. As someone wrote, it's time for the Catholic Bishop of Tampa, concerned clergy, and those laymen who see the slippery slope here to "go Martin Luther King" on the situation.

Pray for Terri, and her family. Pray for the husband and his lawyers and others who will be held accountable for their actions.


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