Monday, March 21, 2005

Gag Redux: I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. Republicans are no longer the party that wants to get government off our backs. They're now shoving government down our throats. While the details of the Terri Schiavo case are muddled as both sides try to spin their stories as the most compelling, it's sickening that the "pro-family" Republicans in Florida and Congress are seeking political gain by sticking their noses in a situation that should be left a family/medical issue.

Matters of life and death are never easy. So we don't need to add political and media hype.

I witnessed something yesterday that somewhat relates. At a hospital, paramedics brought in an elderly woman with severe pneumonia. She was unconscious and barely able to gasp for breath. The woman's husband and daughter were there in the emergency room waiting to see whether she could be saved.

The doctor took a grim tone and explained that the pneumonia was so severe that, although he could temporarily help her now, it would only prolong her agony until she dies. He recommended that the family choose to withhold invasive treatment.

The look on the husband's face was heartbreaking. One can only guess how long he had been married to this woman who was now suffering. Suddenly, there in the emergency room, he had to decide the rest of her life. Although he knew the right thing to do was to withhold treatment, he just couldn't bring himself to say it out loud.

His daughter, through tears, urged him to "let her go." Eventually he relented, believing he was doing what was best for his wife.

As the family drama was unfolding, nurses were turning away with tears in their eyes. Death, as traumatic as it may occur, has a peaceful end for the one who dies. But for the ones who are left living, letting go can be a torturous ordeal. Despite the emotional toll, however, matters of life and death are more complicated than what can be captured in a political soundbite. And scoring cheap political points off the misery of others is disgraceful.

Update: A liberal friend of mine brought up a good point. After all this talk by Republicans about the "sanctity of marriage", conservatives are now asking "activist judges" to subvert it.


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