Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Terri's Day

Four years ago, a young disabled woman was dehydrated by court order, at the command of her estranged husband, while her loving family's offers to take her into their home and care for her without compensation were ignored.
The President came back from a trip in the wee hours of the morning to sign a bill named Terri's Law passed unanimously by the Senate. The Governor of her state ordered that the evidence of the trial which condemned her to slow and painful death be re-examined and he was overruled by the Florida Supreme Court.
A President, a Governor, a Civil Rights Leader (Jesse Jackson), a Christian celebrity (Joni) a talk radio superstar (Sean Hannity) and a famous priest (Fr Frank Pavone) failed in their heartfelt efforts to save a young woman whose only crime was that her husband had moved on with his affections and started a family elsewhere.
Michael Schiavo had for some unknown reason, changed his mind from partnering with her parents in helping his wife's recovery, and suing her doctors for $20 million for her breakdown to have money to pay for her recuperative therapy, to a surly unresponsive man who only spoke through lawyers like George Felos who specialized in euthanasia. The soundtrack is reminiscent of "The Passion of the Christ" evoking that same dread that someone innocent is going to suffer by the end of this film.
This story is told in a compelling manner by Joni, a quadriplegic with the unique perspective to help us understand what Terri's feelings may have been, if she had just been able to speak more clearly. For speak she did, until Michael discontinued her therapy as "pointless". Joni offers the viewer her voice for her sister Terri who was silenced so unthinkably.
We must never let this tragedy be forgotten, as it continues unabated. in many hospices around the world, most recently to Eulana Englaro in Italy. The horror of forced dehydration will increase until it threatens someone you love. Four years ago, during this tragedy, I felt the hot breath of the likes of George Felos after my three year old daughter Christina who has Down syndrome, who many regard as "life unworthy of life". If a person's rights are determined by an arbitrary secular standard, any one of us may be in a situation one day where we are terminated for the good of society. It's what we would want, isn't it?
Let's remember Terri's Day and say "never again" in America will a healthy young woman who happens to be silent, suffer the agony of dehydration.
I highly recommend this riveting, yet balanced (yes, George Felos got his say) two part "Joni and Friends" TV show called "The Terri Schiavo. Story". It unpacks the emotionally complex story in a manner which unravels the maddening confusion deliberately created by the one-sided media and explains poignantly how a family's private battle inflamed an entire nation.
View it to remember that we do indeed inhabit a Culture of Death.
Watch the trailer here.
Purchase the film from Franklin Springs Family Media here.

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