Randy Schultz, editor of the editorial page of the Palm Beach Post
has a great editorial
in today's paper. Schultz carefully reviews the judicial history of the case and the opinions filed by judges, observing along the way:
"It is likely that no guardianship court," the judges said, "has ever received as much high-quality medical evidence in such a proceeding." The appeals court looked at the full-length videotapes of Ms. Schiavo, not the excerpts on TV news programs. The judges examined brain scans. The conclusion: Terri Schiavo is in a permanent vegetative state.
But as Judge Altenbernd noted in June: "Each of us, however, has our own family, our own loved ones, our own children... we understand why a parent who had raised and nurtured a child from conception would hold out hope that some level of cognitive function remained. If Mrs. Schiavo were our own daughter, we could not but hold to such a faith."
So the court sees Terri Schiavo as a person. The court knows the tragedy, of her condition, the family fight, the unpleasant decision. "It is a thankless task," Judge Altenbernd wrote, "and one to be taken with care, objectivity and a cautious legal standard designed to promote the value of life.
"But it is also a necessary function if all people are to be entitled to a personalized decision about life-prolonging procedures independent of the subjective and conflicting assessments of their friends and relatives... the law currently provides no better solution that adequately protects the interests of promoting the value of life."
Saving the best for last, Schultz concludes: "It should have ended there. The courts have spent years on Terri Schiavo's case and acknowledged the difficulty. The governor and Legislature spent two hours and proclaimed themselves saviors. So who's being reckless and uncaring?"