Quite often during this trial of the battle for Terri's life I have read of and personally encountered loads of misinformation as well as downright hostility towards those speaking in favor of sparing Terri's life. It has been awful to watch helplessly as court after court continued to uphold the death sentence that Terri was given. Some people have said 'she is a vegetable anyway and doesn't feel a thing' others have said 'she is not really a person' 'she is just a shell' she is not really there' and still others have said that her family was totally selfish. In my own personal experience I received the 'right-wing Christian' label, as if somehow holding the views and beliefs of whatever it is defines a 'right-wing Christian' my opinions and comments don't matter. Of course that isn't even a ripple on the surface of what Terri's family have endured as they have struggled to protect the most basic right of all human beings: the right to life.
Those who support the death sentence given to Terri seem to see justification in such a decision based on her physical state; or better yet, let us just say, based on their view of her physical state as well as what they read in the newspapers. I might venture to say that a large percentage of those who hold a 'death sentence' view for Terri received all their information from the newspapers. I don't state this as fact because I haven't researched it specifically, but am judging by the responses to Terri's situation via the comments people have made. They have ignored, at their own peril, the truth of what this horrific court decision has done. They have ignored, at their own peril, her court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration, deciding in their minds that because of Terri's physical and mental state this is a justifiable decision for the court to make. They have ignored, at their own peril, Terri's humanity, rendering her lacking in such, due to her physical and mental state. And just as important, they have ignored the real facts of the case, rendering their lay decisions based on a media that promotes this sort of thing, evident in their choice of headlines as well as the labeling of this story as a 'right to die' court case.
Terri did not pursue death, Michael pursued death, the death of Terri, and by one of the most horrible of deaths, and her family fought against it. Therefore right off the bat this is not a right to die. By titling it as such the news media sets it in the readers mind as something it is not. From Michael's opinion (and desires) to conflicting doctors opinions-and they can be as different as night and day-to her family's personal experiences with Terri, to the timeline of her life since the injury, to the court documents, there is a lot of information out there, as well as misinformation-from what constitutes a 'persistent vegetative state' to whether or not such a state is death worthy.
There is no denying that Terri was severely disabled by the tragedy that struck her so many years ago, but here is what all those opinions of lay people err, here is where her husband erred as well as the judges who rendered the death sentence pursued with such fervor by Michael: Terri was still a human being and to sentence a human being to death by purposely starving them goes against all of what we should stand for as her fellow human beings. We should put aside her physical and mental state, we should look closely at what exactly Michael bases his claim on, and we should err on the side of life, whether we understand the purpose of a life lived in Terri's condition or not. We should have, as a people, stood against our courts ordering Terri to be starved to death. It should NEVER have happened. And it only happened because Terri had no 'quality of life' as determined by those who were set against her being starved to death.
Her parents and brother and sister have been callously called selfish by those who obviously don't understand what unconditional love means. They knew her in a way that even Michael did not know her, and she had a worth to them, beyond what her physical and mental state would deem worthy to those who don't see any purpose or point in it. To call selfish, a family who continued to make Terri as active a part of their family as they possibly could is to totally misunderstand what it means to really love someone. They did not shrink away in disgust, or say to themselves or to the media 'I would rather be dead than live like that' 'what kind of life is that?' 'that is no life', etc. What they did instead was to love her anyway. They didn't try to hold onto Terri's life through 'misguided guilt' or whatever are some of the ridiculous reasons some have decided why her family tried to stop her death, what they were doing were trying to stop Terri from dying via a court order.
Our legislative branch of government got this right though, in stepping in to try and protect Terri's Constitutional right to life, and the judiciary, in a bold 'in your face' rebuked the Congress!! This is another clear example of an out of control judiciary. The judges in this case were supposed to be guided by the Constitution, which is quite clear on the life issue, but instead they decided to be misguided by their own personal views of an issue such as this and instead of protecting Terri's life, decided her life wasn't worth living. So, Congress did the right thing in legislating a review of the case. What they did was pass a bill that should have allowed Terri's case to be taken out of the 'death to Terri' camp and placed into a 'reasonable doubt' and 'what are Terri's rights' panel for a fresh review and close scruitiny of what in the world was happening in the Florida courts.
We all have our opinions on a wealth of subjects and this one is no exception. But this should have never happened to Terri. Her rights were totally ignored, bypassed, and deemed of no value by a court system designed to support her and fight for her right to life. If we think that this was okay, we are wrong in our thinking, because it should never be okay to court order a starvation death of a disabled person, no matter their level of disability.
[Quote] there should be a federal review in state cases where there are contested decisions to withhold feeding tubes from significantly disabled people. We also believe there should be a state-by-state reform of guardianship and health-care decision laws to safeguard the involuntary euthanasia of disabled people....Too many people with severe disabilities have been called “vegetables” – this is not only demeaning, but dehumanizing. When severely disabled people are stripped of life-dignity, the discussion too easily turns to death or the warehousing of that individual in a hospice.....there should be a “cognitive assessment review” as a minimal standard before a feeding tube is removed. When a person’s wishes are not documented, we should err on the side of life; we should assume that living is preferable over dying.......media discussions have centered around whether or not a severely disabled person is “going to get better some day” as though that fact is a criterion for life. However, for millions of Americans, disability is a fact of life; many will “never get better” by society’s standards. We assert that the quality of one’s life should never be a criteria to put them to death. Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of what it means to be human....Disabled people have the right to life. The moral fabric of our country will be strengthened as we support the right of all disabled people to humane treatment, rehabilitative therapy, and most of all, the right to life...Joni Eareckson Tada [/Quote]
She says it so well, but I bet because she herself is severely disabled many who read this and other views along this vein, will dismiss what statements such as these mean. It only further makes the case of my earlier experience with the 'right wing Christian' label, but it by no means makes the label makers right in not considering the truth of such things coming from a hands on view of the disability community such as Joni has.