Long ago Jewish law made a distinction between withholding medication and special treatments from a patient as opposed to withholding food and water. Whereas there comes a time when we are no longer required to proactively employ "heroic" medicines and treatments to keep a non-functioning body operating, it is always necessary to continue feeding a patient.
A heart, for example, that beats not on its own but only through an artificial respirator is surviving outside the pale of physiology its maintenance is artificial. There is nothing artificial, however, in people being fed by others. Babies do not feed themselves, nor do the frail and very sick for example, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients. While we do not breathe for others, we certainly feed others. It makes no difference if the person is fed from without or within, conventionally or by machine.
While medicating is a conditional decision, not so feeding. Feeding is not a medical question, it is the most basic human need whose purview is not the doctor's or judge's but inalienable. Not to feed one starving in front of you is: "Standing by While the Blood of Your Brother is Spilt."
Terri Schiavo's heart and brain are not being kept alive by a machine. She breathes on her own and her brain-stem and other strategic parts of her mind continue to function. Terri Schaivo is not an "artificial" person. "Pulling the plug" is a misnomer being used by those who want her dead and out of the picture, i.e., no longer a moral and ethical challenge.
Pulling the plug here means pulling her feeding tube so as to starve her to death; something the ACLU would never allow if this woman were a jihadist terrorist in prison on plans of blowing up American citizens.
Action by Congressman Delay and Co. (including Iowa's Steve King) has provided tremendous relief to those of us who were overcome with anguish and revulsion that an innocent woman was to be starved to death here in the United States with the official sanction of the Third Branch of Government, the Judiciary. As one distraught friend said to me today in Synagogue: "If they want to kill her, why don't they do it quickly and spare her the agony and torture of 14 days of starvation." In fact, if Terri could talk, we could never allow such a process for her screams of pain would be unbearable even to the judge who has sentenced her.
There is a much larger question here that has ramifications beyond the Terri Schiavo situation. There are those in the House, such as Rep. Henry Waxman, and liberal talk-show hosts who are irate and screaming at those wishing to keep her alive. The anger of the presiding judge can be attributed to that of ego being challenged by elements questioning his reasoning and authority. But what is to be said of those who have no personal stake?
The apathy displayed by so many remains disheartening, but the tirades from certain liberals against those simply wishing to keep her alive so that her parents can take care of her is truly eye-opening. What pivotal liberal principle is being destroyed by the House wishing to keep this young woman alive? Their anger is roused for they behold via this case the use in our society of standards set forth by religious convictions. This case illustrates their inability try as they may to wipe out the animating force and decisiveness of religion in issues important to Americans.
It is Christian groups and the largest Orthodox Jewish grassroots movement, Agudath Israel, who have taken up her cause for life. Inspired by a biblical belief that starving Terri to death constitutes murder, Christian preachers and laymen the faithful have come to her rescue. Nothing is scarier to hard core secularists than having issues of the day be framed and won within the rubric of a universal religious standard. So as to avoid the "separation of church and state" police, the House and Senate have had to frame their plea under the more neutral phraseology of "Life, Liberty, andů"
Those on the Left claiming the House is encroaching on the concept of "local control' are disingenuous given their history of opposing local school board decisions and mandating against them from the Federal level, not to mention their unending fight against localities who vote to place nativity scenes near the public gazebo.
Those who speak of upholding the law are not believable given that there is no free-standing existing law that requires in these situations starving patients to death. We all know that this decision rests on the will of a husband who has a girlfriend he wishes to marry and who is eagerly anticipating insurance money. If understanding constitutes 9/10 of the law, everyone understands that a cruel circumstance has given guardianship over the life of a woman to a man who wants her out of his life. But secularists are willing to abjure compassion and intellectual honesty so as not to allow a victory for Christian/religious beliefs. Thus their outrage.
The procedure of death-inducing starvation is, as Rep. Delay says, "barbaric," and what appears to be the use of the system by an unloving husband to finish-off his wife a travesty and an upending of justice. It is an outcome most Americans can not stomach.
Ironically, the National Organization of Women has been silent and deaf to the distant calls of a sister under the thumb of a cold-hearted man. Evidently, it is hard for N.O.W. to wish victory to a Christian Coalition so at odds with them over abortion and who in this case echo the refrain that so grates on their psyche, namely, the sanctity of life, the right to life. Subconsciously, the intravenous feeding tube is too similar to the umbilical cord the inviolability of the former presupposes likewise for the latter.
As for those defenders of criminals, illegal aliens and, now, terrorists the ACLU, where are they when needed to defend the ultimate right the right to live?
Curiously, the most silent group has been those on the Left always in the forefront demanding "lifestyle" rights. It should be obvious from their silence that when they speak of rights it really means license society being forced to extend approbation, the concept of rights, to what really is licentiousness. Others who have lectured us for decades about the need for "compassion" have suddenly become "legalists" with hearts of stone.
What is happening at this moment under Republican leadership in the House and Senate is truly a unique American phenomenon. It is unlikely that in European countries or "sophisticated" societies the fate of this girl ever would have been allotted national importance. And that is because those countries and societies snicker at the idea of Judeo-Christian moral values occupying roles in political and national arenas. Let them snicker! Today America's leaders lifted a great burden from our conscience and made us proud, reaffirming what it means to be A Light Unto The Nations.