I think there is general consensus that if Terry Schiavo had left her wishes in writing, there would have been no story here. Either she would have been left without food and water to die without fanfare years ago or she would still be alive, just one anonymous case among among a sea of similarly disabled people in the country.

Even without a living will of some type, the Schiavo case quite possibly  could have remained a relative non-event except for one thing: the court allowed its mission to become implementation of a dark ideology rather than finding of facts and abiding by the law.

In a masterful review and analysis of the case, Eric Cohen of the Weekly Standard explains this and more. Make sure to read the whole thing, but here is a taste:

Part of the problem was simply judicial incompetence–especially the
court’s decision, in direct violation of Florida law, to act as Terri
Schiavo’s guardian at key moments of the case rather than appoint an
independent guardian to represent her interests, separate from the
interests of her husband and her parents. But the problem went deeper
than incompetence: It also had to do with ideology–with a set of
assumptions about what makes life worth living and thus worth
protecting. Procedural liberalism (discerning and respecting
the prior wishes of the incompetent person; preserving life when such
wishes are not clear) gave way to ideological liberalism
(treating incompetence itself as reasonable grounds for assuming that
life is not worth living). When the district court’s decision to allow
Michael Schiavo to remove the feeding tube was challenged, a Florida
appeals court framed the question before it as follows:

[W]hether Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo, not
after a few weeks in a coma, but after ten years in a persistent
vegetative state that has robbed her of most of her cerebrum and all
but the most instinctive of neurological functions, with no hope of a
medical cure but with sufficient money and strength of body to live
indefinitely, would choose to continue the constant nursing care and
the supporting tubes in hopes that a miracle would somehow recreate her
missing brain tissue, or whether she would wish to permit a natural
death process to take its course and for her family members and loved
ones to be free to continue their lives.
(emphasis added)

Now, one could surely read this as an effort to get inside Terri’s
once competent mind. But more likely, it expresses the court’s own view
of Terri’s now incompetent and incapacitated existence as a meaningless
burden, a barrier to her husband’s freedom. The court’s obligation to
discern objectively what Terri’s wishes were and whether they were
clear–a question of fact–morphed into an inquiry as to whether she
could ever get better, with the subjective assumption that life in her
present condition was not meaningful life.

This, of course, is a very dangerous development and why this case became such a culture war flashpoint. If judges start making decisions about whether or not other persons life is worth living, regardless of what that person may or may not think about the same question, we are  in dire straits indeed.

Don Johnson Evangelistic Ministries