By: Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
February 23, 2005 will be a day that all people of good will in America remember for however remaining years are left for this Republic. It should be remembered as "Terri's Day"; the day when truth and goodness triumphed or the day when perfidy, intentional lies and evil disguised as a "right", led to the execution of Terri Schiavo by starvation and dehydration.
I awakened to the headline in my morning newspaper: "Two Rulings Leave Fate of "VEGETATIVE WOMAN" Undecided". Since it was an Associated Press Release, I am sure millions all over America - and beyond - were greeted with the same horrible headline! This marks the triumph of "verbicide" in this advance of death disguised as a "right." That phrase was coined by the late, great C.S. Lewis to refer to the "murder of a word." We should insist on calling such polemical monstrosities "Oxy-Morons", with the emphasis on moron, for the one who wrote this horrid headline.
A person cannot be a "Vegetable".
It was bad enough when members of the medical profession, the media and then general public began to use the horrible phrase "persistent vegetative state", with no medical justification whatsoever, to speak to people in comas. Like much of the nomenclature of this growing culture of death which uses persons as property, this was quickly shortened in order to make it more acceptable - less troubling to what is left of the National conscience. Now, you hear the term "P.V.S." Let's be brutally honest, a human person cannot ever, ever, ever have the qualities of a "vegetable." Philosophers and Theologians speak of "ontology" as the field of knowledge that relates to the "essence" of something. A Dog is not a cabbage, for example. A person who does not communicate in a manner that someone else, more powerful, insists is "meaningful", does not cease to be a human person.
Here is the undeniable, absolutely verified truth, Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage. Her communications skills were altered as a result of the injury. She is thus a disabled American. She is also a daughter to two wonderful parents who have lovingly cared for her and communicate with her, non-verbally. She is not dying. In order to facilitate easier feeding of Terri, a so called "feeding tube" is being used. This does not constitute the use of "extraordinary medical means"by any stretch of that term.
Today, at 5 p.m., E.S.T. a judge's order staying Terri's execution expires. That's right, she is under a stay of execution, enabling her dear parents to get some judicial assistance to stop the planned killing. Oh, I know, many of my readers will not like this blunt description, but it is nonetheless true. Terri is a human person, not a vegetable. As far as her potential to improve her communications skills goes, we simply do not know what can happen. We all welcomed the wonderful story, several weeks back now, concerning Sarah Scantlin of Hutchinson, Kansas, who was similarly limited in her communicative ability after an accident twenty years ago, who began to speak. I am sure that her mother is watching the events in Dunedin, Florida today! The whole world is.
This is Terri's Day. Either way, she will serve as a sign to America of the future of our Nation. Freedom does not consist in the "right" to exercise raw power over those who are in need. That is the counterfeit of freedom. However, it is the basis of is being claimed as a "right" to stop giving food and water to Terri Schiavo. There is absolutely no evidence that she desired to be killed by starvation and dehydration! That is, thank God, still illegal in America. This is a contrived claim, advanced by an estranged husband, backed by a lawyer who should be disbarred, and funded by culture of death activists. Worse yet, if left without judicial intervention, the sentence will be carried out by a Medical Doctor who, in contravention of his oath, will starve a woman to death in the name of "doing no harm!"
This is not the first time that we have witnessed the advance of this kind of evil, perpetrated by lawyers and Doctors. I have practiced law for twenty five years. I esteem the legal profession as an opportunity to serve the person, the family and the common good. I also know the extraordinary power now entrusted to lawyers, who, with a compliant judiciary, unmoored from either the restraints of the separation of powers doctrine, or more importantly, reference to the natural moral law that should bind all men and women, have become the new social and legal engineers. In another time, pre-Nazi Germany, lawyer/Doctor team, Hoche and Binding, wrote a book whose German title can be loosely translated "Life Unworthy of Living." In it they called for the elimination of people like Terri and so many others. They called them "useless eaters". This argument laid the groundwork for the rise of the eugenics movement and the rise of National Socialist Regime with all of its untold evils.
We recoil from such evil utilitarianism. Yet, we are promoting the very same evil!
Oh, I know, people are referring to this entire story as a "right to die" issue. This is not about a "right to die", we all have a "right" to die when it is time and when we are called home. We should be surrounded by love when that time comes. This is not even about "passive" euthanasia, or "active" euthanasia. In fact, it is not about "euthanasia" at all, which must always be resisted as intrinsically evil. This is actually an effort to create a "right" to kill. The story of Terri Schiavo is about the possibility of judicially sanctioned murder by a husband who no longer cares for his wife. His will is being forced upon a disabled woman through a misguided lawyer and this execution is being funded by pro-death activists. There is absolutely no independent proof whatsoever of Terri's so called "last wishes". That is a subterfuge.
Who's so called "right" are we really talking about? Terri has a right to live; and to be loved and cared for by her parents and all those who have volunteered to serve her. These are the ones whose virtue and understanding of human solidarity should become the framework for the renewal of our Nation in this critical hour. If we continue to pray - and courageous public servants do their duty - maybe Terri's day will mark the time when America refused to believe a lie and rose up to say "No More" to the denizens of death who want to legalize the homicide of a disabled woman.
It is no accident that, just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case from Oregon that attempts to create another new "right", suicide. It is the profane next step if the evil, scientifically bogus and legally insane decision of Roe v Wade is left as "precedent". There is a profane and evil logic to it all. When abortion, the intentional taking of innocent human life in the first home of the womb, is protected in the law as a "right", all bets are off. Of course, as I have for almost thirty years, I will join the millions of decent people who oppose the expansion of the culture of death and work hard to prevent this new horror. I will continue to spend every bit of energy I have to build a new culture of life and a civilization of love to replace the current culture of death.
However, on Terri's day, we are not talking about assisting a suicide but rather killing a disabled woman because she cannot communicate the way that someone else determines has "value". It is no wonder that the disabilities community has stood in solidarity with Terri. We are talking about the "triumph of the will", in this instance the will of an estranged husband who no longer "wants" his wife, to "dispose' of her with the force of law and the protection of the State. Some women's groups have seen the specter of allowing such a raw abuse of power by men over women, others have not.
Tonight we will either see the coming of hope on the horizon through a judicial stay that will allow Terri's parents to continue their courageous fight for their beloved daughters life, or we will witness the beginning of the starvation and dehydration of a beautiful woman named Terri Schiavo, who will become one more martyr in an age that has lost its soul.
Deacon Keith A. Fournier is a married Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia who also serves the Mel kite Greek Catholic Eparchy. He is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. A human rights lawyer, communicator and writer, his newest book, "The Prayer of Mary" will be released by Thomas Nelson Publishers this Summer. Deacon Fournier is the Senior Editor and Correspondent for Catholic Online and a Contributing Editor for Traditional Catholic Reports. He has dedicated the "Second Half" of his life, having recently turned fifty, to making the teaching of Pope John Paul II known and loved, offering it as the path to authentic renewal.
Third Millennium, LLC
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580
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