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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 4, 2005 / 24 Adar II, 5765

Congressional retrogression in Schiavo intervention

By Robert Robb

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | May Terri Schiavo rest in peace. And may the rest of us be circumspect in the political use we seek to make of her death.

Although my libertarian instincts occasionally prevail, for the most part I share the social conservative critique and support its agenda. I am pro-life, believe that society should have greater authority to minimize culturally harmful influences, and find much of popular culture to be deracinated and degrading.

Yet I found much of what social conservatives were saying in the Schiavo case to be perplexing and even troubling.

For example, the claim that this was a battle between a culture of life on the right and a culture of death on the left. This found additional articulation in the claim that Schiavo was being "killed" or even "murdered."

Social conservatives had various perpetrators fingered for this crime: her husband, the judges, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for not defying court orders, even the rest of us for a lack of collective will to change the course of events.

This takes the moral argument well beyond where the case began, as a dispute over her medical condition and appropriate guardianship.

Over the last three decades, American law has made substantial progress toward giving individuals and families more control over decisions to medically intervene to prolong life.

Yet if withdrawing the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo was "killing" or "murdering" her, then it would have been morally wrong even if her parents had agreed with the decision, rather than bitterly fighting it.

After all, her parents had no more right to kill or murder Terri than did her husband. Nor collectively did they have any more right to do so than each acting singly.

Nor, for that matter, would Schiavo have had the right to make that decision for herself, for example through a living will. If withdrawing the feeding tube was killing or murder, it would still be so if done by others in accordance with her wishes. And if she could have done it herself, it would have been suicide.

The implication of what social conservatives said during this controversy is that these difficult decisions should be removed from individuals and families. Indeed, part of Terri's Law was the stated intention of Congress to pass federal legislation dealing with medical intervention on behalf of the incapacitated.

This would be retrogression. The U.S. Supreme Court has found that declining medical treatment, even when such refusal will be fatal, is a protected aspect of liberty. It has left broad discretion to the states to establish processes by which such decisions are made for the incapacitated. Some states require a clear prior expression by the patient. Some permit family members to make the decision.

There is no reason to believe that Congress possesses some special wisdom or moral insight about these decisions. And constricting the ability of families to make them, as Congress seems to want to do, is an affront to moral sensibilities, not in service to them.

The attitude of social conservatives toward death, as reflected in this debate, is perplexing.

Social conservatism is primarily a movement of Christian evangelicals and Catholics. Christians believe that life is a gift from G-d, which carries a moral obligation to exercise good and wise stewardship of it. But death is not to be feared or preternaturally resisted, since it is a gateway to a closer and fuller relationship with G-d.

It's worth noting that the movement toward greater authority for family members regarding these decisions began with the Karen Ann Quinlan case in 1976, which has many parallels with the Schiavo case.

Quinlan was severely brain damaged and her life was being sustained by medical intervention, a respirator and a feeding tube. A living will hadn't been executed. Her father was a devout Catholic.

But in this case, the father successfully petitioned the court for the right to stop the medical interventions. And the Catholic Church entered the case as amicus curiae in support of his request.

In the Schiavo debate, some social conservatives made the point that Schiavo wasn't dying. She just couldn't feed herself. Some also made a distinction between a feeding tube and other artificial means of life support, such as a respirator or heart machine.

There are, of course, important gradations of dependence and cognition in these cases. But there certainly wouldn't seem to be a moral difference between needing medical intervention to nourish and hydrate and needing it to breathe or circulate blood.

These are difficult decisions, obviously involving the difference between life and death. But they are not a choice between a culture of life and a culture of death. Nor is allowing death to happen without medical intervention the same as killing or murder.

They can also be messy decisions, particularly when there is a family conflict, as was the case with Terri Schiavo.

But, as unsatisfactory as the outcome in this case was to many, they remain decisions best made by individuals and their families rather than by politicians.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

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