Thursday, February 24, 2005

Absolute Strangers

Robert Anderson, the playwright who wrote Tea and Sympathy and I Never Sang for My Father, wrote a TV movie in 1991 called Absolute Strangers, which tells the story of a husband who tries to keep his comatose wife alive by allowing doctors to terminate her pregnancy, but anti-abortion protesters start a legal campaign to gain custody of the fetus. I can’t help but think of that film when I read about Teri Schiavo.

The parents of Terri Schiavo won another reprieve in their fight to keep the brain-damaged woman alive after a judge extended an emergency stay keeping her feeding tube in place.

The stay had been set to expire Wednesday afternoon, but Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer extended it until 5 p.m. Friday.

A lawyer for the parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, had asked the judge to block the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube so the family can have more time to determine if she has greater mental capabilities than previously believed.

The Schindlers also want more time to try to remove Schiavo’s husband as legal guardian.

They have been in a long, bitter struggle with Michael Schiavo, who said his wife never wanted to be kept alive artificially. She left no written directive.

Also Wednesday, the Florida Department of Children & Families moved to intervene in the case hours after Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters he was seeking a way to keep Terri Schiavo alive.

“I can assure you, I will do whatever I can within the means, within the laws, of our state to protect this woman’s life,” Bush said, adding that he has received thousands of e-mails and telephone calls from the Schindlers’ supporters. [AP]

I can understand the parents’ role in this. I can even understand (not agree with, however) their desperate attempts to cling to hope that somehow, someway, she might come out of it. But the intervention of leeches like Randall Terry of Operation Every Sperm Is Sacred and Gov. Bush is yet another example of the unmitigated gall of those who think they know how to run everyone else’s lives because they believe they have a direct line to God. They certainly have one to hypocrisy; both of them have railed against “activist judges” yet they have no qualms about running to the courts when it serves their politics.

I cannot imagine anything worse than hordes of absolute strangers barging into the most intimate and wrenching decision a family has to make. If Teri Schiavo were to wake up, I would hope the first words out of her mouth would be, “Leave me alone.”