After rereading an essay about Terri Schiavo that Ron Paul wrote for the Lew Rockwell website back in 2005, I have become even more convinced that he is not simply a Constitutionalist mistaken about the role of the federal government in protecting life, but one who does not have a pro-life philosophy.
To remind young readers, Terri Schiavo was a lady who was brain-damaged after collapsing from “unknown” causes in 1990. She was later put to death in 2005 by the painful method of dehydration at the request of her husband, Michael Schiavo, who was already living with his new fiance. Their home had been purchased with money he won in a malpractice suit on Terris’ “behalf”, furthermore, he had also collected an insurance settlement. However, her parents were willing to take care of her and bear the cost of her care. At the time, Congress did some things to try and slow down the murderous process or intervene on her behalf but Ron Paul objected to those efforts.
First, Ron Paul was totally uninformed about Terri Schiavo. He claimed “this debate deals with the passive treatment of the critically and terminally ill.”
But Schiavo was neither critically, nor terminally ill. She was severely brain damaged, but still able at times to communicate with the family. She had lived for years after whatever brought her to her condition and could have lived for decades more had not her husband ordered her death and congress remained “passive”. Also, to describe removing water and food from someone as “passive treatment” is to exchange medical gobbledygook for criminal actions.
In a free society the doctor and the patient — or his or her designated spokesperson — make the decision, short of using violence, in dealing with death and dying issues. The government stays out of it.
This is so simplistic as to ignore virtually every fact in the case. Again, this was not a medical decision at all, it was the deliberate withholding of water and food from a living person. To use the word violent implies the “good death” notion that Terri’s murderous husband, lawyer and local judge tried to perpetrate against Terri, all the while filling her room with softly scented flowers and soft music. This does not change the fact that she was murdered in cold blood. What really torques Ron Paul about Terri Schiavo is the federal government involvement, not her brutal slaughter.
He equates concern for the economics of government health care with proponents of abortion funding and writes: “they insist that abortion foes be forced to fund this act that many of them equate with murder.” But does Paul himself equate the morning-after-pill with a person committing real murder?
“…the horrible murder when you see someone lying in the floor and someone takes a gun and puts it to their head. I don’t equate those and don’t expect the law or juries to treat them exactly alike.”
Later he wrote this about the Schiavo case:
Having practiced medicine in simpler times, agonizing problems like we just witnessed in this case did not arise. Yes, similar medical decisions were made and have been made for many, many years. But lawyers weren’t involved, nor the courts nor the legislators nor any part of the government — only the patient, the patient’s family, and the doctor. No one would have dreamed of making a federal case of the dying process.
What Paul is advocating here is that great day when family members could kill each other off without the interference of the government. That is not pro-life, it is pro anarchy. According to Paul, we would have all been better off had the Schindlers (Terri’s parents and siblings) just not asked the courts or government to get involved.
I am quite aware of Paul’s state’s rights views. But the Fourteenth Amendment states explicitly:
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.
That is the US Constitution. Where was Ron Paul when Terri Schiavo needed him to stand up for Terri’s Constitutional Rights?
Updated: There has been some analysis done of Terri’s autopsy.
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.