Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Questions for Conservatives regarding Terri Shiavo

Regarding Terri Shiavo, I, as a Floridian residing in the same metropolitan area (so it is on the news all the time), have a few things to ask, mostly to the my friends in the Christian Right (or that consider themselves ideologically conservative- I consider myself none of the above). So, I need some response from you who consider yourself Conservative, Republican or members of the Religious Right. So, respond and have friends respond.

First of all, I would say that, even as a non-RRer, I have felt, like many of you, since day 1 that Michael Shiavo should just sign over guardianship to her parents. If they are willing to pay for her care, they should. End of story. I do not care if she is in a vegetative state or not. I think she should be allowed to live (and be fed- since this is different from may cases because life support is not involved).

So, here are the questions which are more about Ideology in Light of Shiavo(and they are real questions- not rhetorical- I want understanding)...

1) I thought that conservatives believed in State's Rights. I thought they were against anything that smacked of Federalism. Yet, in the case of Terri Shaivo people want The US Senate and Presient Bush to step in. Now, I could care less if the Federal Government steps in (I am a bit of a Federalist). But, shouldn't Conservatives fight for Florida's rights to establish its own destiny? They have old laws in place that were upheld by state judges (which is why the Supreme Court has tried to steer clear). Why should the US government step in (ideologically- not practically).

2) I went to David Limbaugh's website and during his "prayers for Terri" he spent most of the time gossipping about Terri's husband, some of which is true and much of it rumor and innuendo. It was tacky. In the desire to keep Terri alive should we assassinate the character of her husband (whom I do not know and whose decisions I strongly disagree with) by spreading rumors? I think the Apostle Paul had some things to say about this. Why do members of the Christian Right continually engage in character assassination (do not say it is because the Secular Left does it too- So, what. I do not care what a non-Religious body does as much as I do a Christian body)? I am sick of Christians feeling the need to call other's names because they are in disagreement (just like some people call my friend Jim Wallis an Anti-American Socialist- see Richard Nash, et al).

3) Ideologically this is my big issue- If Terr is allowed to live, who will pay for Terri's care if her parents cannot or do not? If we save her life, who is paying for her? Her parents' money may run out. Churches have not stepped forward. Most Conservatives believe that the government should not be in the business of health care, welfare, etc. In fact, Jeb and George W Bush have made it very clear in their budgets and speeches that Medicare and Medicade are not a priority. Care for the poor, indigent and needy is not government's problem. And, most Christians seem to agree. So, does the government step up? Now, understand, I have no problem with the government intervening (because the church does a lousy job) and paying for her care- but I am not ideologically "conservative." However, many prolifers are against government aid and Terri may need it.

Help me to understand.

here is an article on the money for terri, which is running out (so the State is already caring for her and will continue)


g13 said...


this piece is perspicacious and helpful. at some point you should consider publishing some of your political reflections. your voice is unique and much needed.

though i haven't given it a ton of thought (i.e., i am pulling this shit right off the top of my head), i do not know if we should conflate the "right to life" with the "right to a machine." it seems to me that families and individuals (in that order) should have the right to refuse ventilators, dialysis machines and other medical treatments that would sustain their lives. furthermore, if the state's money is sustaining the individual in question, i think they should have some sort of voice as well. these ideas are admittedly provisional and i am more than willing to hear your, or others, thoughts on this matter.

i also find it reassuring that you are a bit of a federalist. as southerners (or fringe southerners, such as my okie self) we need to remember where a passion for state's rights has led us in the past. most of those roads, if memory serves, were rather dark.

james said...

Some great thoughts Rick. I will wait to comment further as you have reserved this section for some conservative RR thought. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rick. Happy St. Patrick's Day! So... uh... I'm registered as a Republican, but I don't think I have much to offer in terms of the "voice of the right." As with Gentry, I'm pretty much pulling this shit off the top of my head. So now that I've significantly reduced any expectations... some short thoughts regarding your three points:

1) Family, Neighborhood, City, County, State, Nation, Continent, World... the classifications remind me of those encapsulated wooden dolls. When I think about the right to life issue (or any issue really), I believe people don't care so much about any kind of politcal consistency regarding the appropriate authority level of the group as much as they care about finding some power angle with the most expediant group to achieve the desired end. But that's not really news, is it...

2) Though I don't intend to read the "prayers for Terri" site, I have no trouble imagining the kind of mud-slinging involved. The whole name-calling thing pretty much pisses me off, embarasses me by association, and makes me want to remove the term "Christian" from the world lexicon.

3) I'm a political moron who... at best... gets frustrated when I pay quarterly taxes (thinking that if most of us weren't numbed by the bi-weekly extraction, we'd revolt after feeling the pain of the lump sum). But the issue you raise isn't so much about amount as it is about category. Honestly, I have no idea. Government roles - making, interpreting, and upholding the law... protecting citizens from themselves and other countries. Why not health protection as well? And why not welfare or "life" protection such as food and shelter? Any why not community-sponsored education?

Sounds like it's time for me to become a Democrat, but while I continue teetering on the fence I know that I continue to have lapses of trust in both big government and big business. Occasionally, I sense that the unecumbered individual is more effective at living than the rule-laden collective. And no, I can't escape my less than optimistic view of human nature and how it effects why we want what we want.

So, end of babble session. Time to see if I can hunt down some green cupcakes, I mean get back to work!

- Mike

Another Mike said...

To start, I find that I float between conservative and moderate. While I appreciate the spirit that you offered your comments, I think you've made a common error: Stereotyping.

All of your assumptions are simplistic. To say that conservatives believe solely in states' rights and not in government-funded health care ignores nuances, degrees, and complexities.

First, yes, conservatives generally agree that states' rights are critical. But all-powerful, with no accountability? Uh, no.

Conservatives generally support the system that's been in place since Day 1: Strong state autonomy, with the federal government as the check and balance.

In this instance they are requesting the intervention of the feds to right the wrong (murder by starvation) imposed by activist judges.

Again, yes, generally conservatives are not supportive of broad, illogical government-funded welfare and health care.

But to say that they don't believe in it at all smacks of the simplistic judgementalism that liberals blame conservatives of.

Where do you think the concept of workfare came from?

A better way, of course, is that churches across the country would rise up, put their pocketbooks where their mouths are and pony up to help Terri's parents bear the load.

As to the spousal smear campaign you talk of, I can't agree with you more. Gee, I wonder why everyone calls Christians hypocrites? Because we give them good reason! :^(

The bottom line to the Religious Right's vehement defense of Terri's life lies in a strong belief in the sanctity of life granted by the Divine.

To point out their inconsistencies in this belief (as Steve Knight did SO well) would take all day. Read: Capital punishment, AIDS, genocide, etc.

However, to be brutally honest, he who thinks he is 100% consistent in all his beliefs, cast the first stone. We're human. We're flawed. Own up.

I, however, will rejoice when the usually clueless evangelical church finally gets it right - like their embrace of the African AIDS crisis the last couple of years, certainly prodded by their black sheep stepchild, Bono.

Sorry for the long post. But your thoughtful post deserves a thoughtful response. Maybe someone will offer one now... ;^)

Anonymous said...

I refer you to this article from Rick Lowry of the National Review about the contention that Republicans are being hypocritical about federalism:

Partisan Hypocrisy: Terri Schiavo, conviction, and politics.

Jerry said...

I'm a Christian, no apologies.
I'm generally politically conservative, but after living outside the US for over a year I'm not sure anymore.

1. You've noted a glaring inconsistency with the polical Right. Pragmatism oftens wins over Idealism. We all have hypocrisy.

2. I've read several smear campaigns against Terri's husband. It's understandable, given the emotionally charged situation. But it's unacceptable. My conclusion: injustice is still alive and well in the world. I believe justice will someday be served, so I try to remain realistic rather than cynical.

3. This is a good question. If Terri dies because her parents can't afford to feed her, that is an issue of poverty, not medical care. If Terri dies from starvation and thirst, that is an issue of witholding basic needs from someone in your care, not a medical issue. The fact that Terri can't respond shouldn't change her rights to have food and water. The reason this issue is so charged is because it looks so exactly like another hot-button issue, abortion. That is, our society makes it acceptable to remove the life of those who are not responsive. That is troubling to me. Frankly, I'm surprised that liberals aren't apposed to abortion and euthanasia for this same reason. I refer you to my thoughts on questions #1 regarding the liberal position.

gospelmidi said...


I accept your concerns as sincere and not diversionary arguments. I am a born-again, Bible-believing Christian, and a conservative who supports the Framers' original intent regarding the founding documents of the United States. I have supported Terri's right to life, just as I would support the right to life of any victim being murdered on the street.

1) I agree with your federalism concerns. The husband should be the guardian, until he has proven that he is not protecting the ward's best interests. At that point, the county probate judge becomes responsible for providing a guardian, until that judge has proven that he is not protecting the ward. The state court of appeals is the next in line to be responsible, until that court has proven that it is not protecting the ward, or that it is refusing its responsibility to judicially review. The legislature, in its role as a check upon the judiciary, has the responsibility to oversee, monitor, and restrain the courts, according to Art. 3, Sec. 7 of the Constitution of the State of Florida.

When all of those recourses have broken down and a ward is being murdered or is being otherwise denied civil rights, Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution permits the U.S. Congress to protect the injured party.

"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

If a U.S. District Court, Court of Appeals, or even the Supreme Court gets out of line, Art. 3, Sec. 2, ¶ 2 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the U.S. Congress to restrain the court

"If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them." - Ecclesiastes 5:8

gospelmidi said...

The Declaration of Independence states,
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

What part of "unalienable" do they not understand?

NAG THE U.S. SENATE TO DEATH (202)224-3121 about restraining these judges that have gone mad. Toll-free numbers are (866)808-0065, (888)355-3588, and (877)762-8762.

Tell your U.S. Senators that the courts are killing us with forced, involuntary euthanasia. We fought World War II to stop the Final Solution; you don't want us to fight it over again!