Terri Schiavo

The Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005 could otherwise be known as the save Terry Schiavo bill. Most accurately, however, it is just as its title claims: protecting the incapacitated. Ensuring that they get the same due process that terrorists and heinous murderers get.

This bill is the first bill introduced by a freshman senator, Mel Martinez (R-FL). Sen. Martinez would get my vote just for this, and he has my thanks for being able to take a concrete step to protect the weak. Those who would think that Sen. Martinez is just another one of those crazy pro-lifers who are routinely demonized in the mainstream media should read his piece at NRO. Some excerpts:

She is not on a respirator or other 24-hour-a-day medical equipment. She responds to voices, touch, and the presence of people. She can smile, cry, and establish eye contact. She can make facial expressions. And several of Terri’s caregivers and outside medical professionals feel that, with proper therapy, she may even be able to learn to eat without a feeding tube.

Last week, I introduced my first piece of legislation in the Senate: The Incapacitated Person’s Legal Protection Act of 2005. This bill would ensure that incapacitated individuals — like Terri Schiavo — would have their due-process rights of habeas corpus when a court orders their death by removal of nutrition, hydration and medical treatment. My colleague from Florida, Congressman Dave Weldon has introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Habeas Corpus” refers to the legal rights available under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that “No State…shall deprive any person of life…without due process of law…nor to deny any person within its jurisdiction equal protections of the laws.”

So, the utilitarian asks, why is this needed? Terri’s just a vegetable, can’t do anything useful. The answer has to do with the innate dignity that must be afforded to all human beings. It has to do with the knowledge that while we can’t all be rich and famous and skilled and beautiful, we are all made in God’s image. The lame, the halt, the dumb, those with brain damage. You. Me. Terri Schiavo.

The Christian knows that we are a fallen species, but also that we are capable of redemption, and that it is possible that God has planned to save even the worst sinner after his repentance. Now one must ask, what, exactly, was Terri Schaivo’s sin that she should not even be aforded the chance at a life?

Sen. Martinez ends his article with a call to contact your senators and representatives:

Before you click onto another screen or go back to work, please contact your senators and contact your congressman to let them know that you support this bill — that Terri Schiavo deserves the same rights as criminals to equal protection under the law.

This isn’t just about Terri Schaivo. It is about how we as a society respond to the least among us. To those unable to defend themselves. Let me leave you with a few words from our Sponsor, from Deuteronomy 30:19 – “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

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