- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Without a further court order, Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube will be removed Friday, and she will starve — painfully, many say — to death. Doesn’t it strike you as eerie that the court relied on the testimony of an “estranged” husband in making its decision?

Doesn’t it strike you as horrifying that Terri may very well want to live but they are going to cause her to die, not by removing a respirator but a feeding tube?

Do you really believe Terri’s husband, Michael, who is living with another woman with whom he sired two children, is refusing to relinquish guardianship of Terri to her parents because he is irreversibly committed to carrying out Terri’s wishes?

Do you believe that disabled, but conscious and self-breathing people who can’t physically feed themselves or verbally express their desire to live, but who have left no written legal directions for such circumstances, should be starved to death?

How likely is it that Terri, now only 41, would have discussed her wishes about life support with her husband in 1990, when she would have only been in her mid-20s, with no inkling of life-threatening or disabling medical conditions?

Without question, even young people discuss these unpleasant matters when they go through estate planning. But Terri didn’t have a will, much less a “living will” or health-care power of attorney. If Terri had been so strong-willed and adamant on the subject, why didn’t she make sure her papers were in order?

Even if Terri told her husband she wouldn’t want to be kept alive “artificially” if she were incapacitated, is it likely she would have been explicit enough to cover all possible scenarios (like she might have in a lawyer’s office), such as those in this case?

If you actually believe she expressed her wishes to Michael, do you think she was so thorough and unambiguous as to make clear her irrevocable desire to die even if it meant starving to death when she could breathe on her own?

What is the urgency, other than financial, to end Terri’s life, especially when her parents want her kept alive and have agreed to care for and assume guardianship of her? Do you really believe Terri’s parents would insist on keeping her alive if they believed she were miserable and didn’t want to live?

Were you aware some believe suspicious circumstances surround Terri’s injuries and there are discrepancies about her medical condition, such as whether she had a heart attack?

Did you know that not long ago the Florida Department of Children and Families sought the court’s permission to intervene in Terri’s case to seek a delay to permit the investigation of claimed abuse?

From what I have read, while Terri is severely disabled, she’s not in a so-called vegetative state. She’s not in a coma, and she’s not medically terminal — except by court decree of starvation. What if, as Terri’s parents believe, Terri truly wants to go on living but just can’t verbalize it? Would it be ethical to starve her just because she can’t feed herself?

If not, on what basis has the system decided to end her life? Surely we can agree it’s entirely possible Terri wants to live even in her current condition even if she expressed a general desire 15 years ago that she did not want “heroic measures” taken to prolong her life under certain circumstances.

Given Terri’s reported responsiveness, her ability to breathe on her own, and the doubt and suspicious circumstances surrounding this case, shouldn’t the decision be in favor of life, especially given that recently, for example, a comatose patient regained consciousness after 19 years?

I find it haunting we live in a culture of death where the presumption seems against a human being wanting to go on living and the burden of proof is on those promoting life.

Terri Schiavo and her parents need and deserve our prayers.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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