Ten years ago the anguish and drama ended when Terri Schiavo, a severely brain damaged woman, was finally allowed to die. Unfortunately, well-meaning conservatives are still wringing their hands about her death. Their concerns are misguided.
Terri Schiavo, a vibrant young woman, entered a persistent vegetative state after she was incapacitated by a sudden medical event. The year was 1990. Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, eventually decided his wife should be allowed to die; Ms. Schiavo’s parents disagreed, and a lengthy legal battle ensued.
Autopsy results subsequently exonerated Terri’s husband and doctors. The day Terri
Schiavo died, the once engaging young woman was blind, unable to safely ingest oral nourishment, and the victim of a “grossly abnormal brain.” Yet passionate pro-life Americans have remained unpersuaded: they contend Ms. Schiavo’s feeding tube should not have been removed. The fervent activists are wrong – Terri’s death mercifully freed her soul from its dilapidated physical home.
The Schiavo case was complex; rumors, marital rights, compassion, and the meaning of life were hopelessly intertwined. Instead of casting Terri Schiavo as a martyr, zealous social conservatives should advocate reforms. It is past time for lawmakers across the country to make it easy and inexpensive for the average citizen to legally establish their end-of-life expectations. Only courage and creativity are needed.