And now for the most often typed phrase in the blogosphere over the past 3 weeks: I haven't written about the Terry Schiavo situation because of (fill in the blank) reason.
My reason is... well... I've been way to busy to really keep up with all the details. That being said, I've some things to say. I won't delve into the specifics of the case because you either know them or you don't and, if you don't, your lack of knowledge will in no way diminish the impact my writing will have on you.
Perhaps I'm overselling... Chances are there will be very little impact. But here's my two cents.
That Congress stepped in on this issue is a travesty and a complete and utter disregard for the judicial system in this country. The Florida courts are skyrocketing past Massachusetts to regain their rightful position atop the the "Most Likely to be Involved in a Constitutional Crisis" list. Like the Massachusetts case, the Republicans are attacking what they view as "activist judges." In Mass. it was the judges who usurped the law and tried to establish gay marriage. But this round, the activist judges are the ones who UPHELD THE CURRENT LAW which states that the decision of whether to cease actions which keep a person alive by purely mechanical means is to be made by the spouse, if married, in consultation with their doctor. Period.
Congressional Republicans stepped in to go against the law (similar laws having been passed by Republican Congresses in the past decade, and one which was passed by a certain Governor of Texas not so very long ago) which is already in place, completely disregarding the courts which are there to act as a check on their legislative powers. The good news is, I have no doubt that that check will work, and that, ultimately, the Supreme Court, if and when it gets that far, will uphold the current laws and Terry Schiavo will be allowed to die in the manner which befits the wishes she expressed to her husband: To die with dignity, it's just that there will be slightly less dignity left for her once "Culture of Life" neo-cons are done on their soapbox.
This brings up troubling precedents, however. Let's say that I'm wrong, and that, because of all their work, the Republicans wind up with the Courts ruling in their favor. Terry Schiavo is left alive, and James Dobson does a little dance and declares it a moral victory against the Godless tyranny that has befallen this country before the Lord ordained Bush to lead us into the promised land (the promised land which, of course, can only be found after Armageddon). We will now be left with hundreds, probably thousands, of people left alive in name only, on machines until their bodies completely and totally wear out like a piece of fatigued metal after it is bent one to many times. Ther will be entire wings of hospitals where people are left alive with no hope for a future meaningful life, the familes who care about them will be kept in a state of emotional limbo as they wait for bodies which have no other option but to simply whither away. It brings to mind the often asked question of just why Christians, who are so sure about the afterlife, are always the ones who are most afraid to go to it.
Also, do I have to now concern myself with the political persuasion of my doctor? If I have a heart attack tomorrow which results in the cutting off of the oxygen to my brain long enough to cease any and all conscious functioning it might have had, and I'm left in a vegetative state, should I have, in the midst of that heart attack, asked the doctor who happened to be next up on the board when my name pops up if he or she is a Republican or a Democrat, and if they will abide by my wishes? (For the record, if I am in this situation... Pull the fucking plug, chop me up, and donate every single usable part to anyone who needs it). This is a can of worms that was best left unopened, if only for the fact that has already been decided (and if it gets to the Supreme Court, and Mr. Schiavo's lawyer isn't pounding his fist on the table screaming "Stare Decisis! Stare Decisis!" then he has no right to be there).
The good news is, though they might get some play out of righteously holding fast to their moral absolutes, just like they do with abortion and gay marriage, this will ultimately be a losing issue for Republicans for two reasons. The first is simple: Public sentiment is not behind them. They might get points for steadfastness, but it will be in vain as the American public has loudly resounded during the life of this story that it is pissed as hell that Congress got involved in the first place. But the second and more important point is that Republicans are not going to be able to stand by this forever. In the past, many Republicans have aided in the passage of laws for just such a situation, and they will have to do it in the future. This isn't the same as abortion, and this isn't the same as gay marriage. They find themselves on completely hypocritical ground, howling into the wind that "every life is precious... every life is precious" and then standing behind Dear Leader who governed a state which has put countless prisoners to death. One day they'll be staring down the barrel from the other side of this issue, and they'll have lost all credibility. Delay, Frist, and Santorum have officially stumbled, and eventually they'll realize that the pebble that tripped them up was their own political hubris.