Congressional grandstanding sank to an all-time low over the weekend as the House convened in an emergency session — not about the threats facing our troops in Iraq, not over concern about the eventual collapse of our Social Security and Medicare systems, but to intervene in a husband’s decision to carry out his comatose wife’s wishes.
Terri Schiavo fell into a coma in 1990. Although she can breathe on her own, she remains in a persistent vegetative state. In 2000, her husband, Michael Schiavo, and his brother and sister-in-law told a Florida judge that his wife would not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, disagreed and set off a legal battle that appeared to end Friday, when her feeding tube was removed under court order.
That fight spilled into the U.S. Capitol, however, when members of the House and Senate rushed back to Washington to pass a law allowing a federal court to intervene in what should be a decision at the state level.
Schiavo’s tragic case raises a number of questions about medical ethics — as well as the circumstances surrounding her coma — and many have questioned her husband’s behavior and reasons for wanting her feeding tube removed. But politicians are hijacking these issues for political purposes.
The federal government has no business intervening in a right-to-die case — but this political pandering makes for good television. It also demonstrates these politicians’ hypocrisy. These senators and representatives want to butt in on what should be a family decision, arbitrated by Florida courts. If they’re so concerned about “the culture of life,” why aren’t they making similar laws to halt the executions of prisoners who might have been falsely convicted? Why did they give the president approval to start a war that’s cost more than 1,500 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives?
Of course we all know why Congress stuck its nose into this case; it’s the same reason lawmakers conducted Congressional hearings on professional baseball and steroids — to shine the spotlight on themselves in an all-too obvious effort to gain votes.
The Republican Party once prided itself on being the party of limited government. But that was before it controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Now the GOP is expanding government, just like its Democratic predecessor — not in the name of limited government or for the people, but for personal power.