Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, March 21, 2005

AN ACT for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo

Just in case you were wondering, this is what your duly elected legislators were up to this weekend, what your President flew to Washington in the middle of the night -- interrupting his Privatization World Tour no less -- to sign into law:


It is the Sense of Congress that the 109th Congress should consider policies regarding the status and legal rights of incapacitated individuals who are incapable of making decisions concerning the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of foods, fluid, or medical care.

Aside from various disclaimers indicating that this law is aimed solely and exclusively at the Schiavo situation, the above-cited passage is the only section that doesn't directly reference Terri Schiavo, and the only section that even suggests that this topic, which prompted an emergency weekend session of Congress (would that the deficit, say, warranted such treatment), warrants further consideration beyond the confines of the right-wing cause celebre du jour. (Is that too much French, Secretary Rumsfeld?)

Unsurprisingly, the Sense of Congress is, well, nonsense. Incapacitated individuals, for reasons amply explained here and here, are not incapable of making decisions in advance about the issue of sustenance and life support, nor are courts incapable of making determinations about such advance decisions.

If we require unequivocal evidence of intent more or less contemporaneous with the moment of incapacitation, anyone who wants to reserve the centuries old commonlaw right to determine for himself what intrusions into his person to allow will find this time-honored prerogative stripped away from him by an overreaching Congress seeking to make political hay of end-of-life decisions. I'll pass on that outcome, personally. In any event, I think everyone should read the Bill. From a civics point of view, from a legal point of view (in my humble opinion), it's an embarrassment.


Blogger UberSleuth said...

I have held my tongue on this abomination for weeks, and finally today just couldn't help but comment to a coworker. Luckily, she and I are in agreement.

However, I just want to express how happy I am that my Congressman voted "nay" this weekend. I would have been happier, though, if they would not have been able to get a quorum together, or if there had been a sufficient number of abstentions, as the bill should not have even been written in the first place.

9:51 PM  
Blogger UberSleuth said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:52 PM  

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