Like all of the other guys on the stage last night at Fox News' Republican presidential candidate debate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush loudly and proudly proclaimed himself pro-life. But not only that, Bush reminded folks that he was concerned about end-of-life issues too:
"I am completely pro-life and I believe that we should have a culture of life," Bush replied. "It is informed by my faith from beginning to end and I did this not just as it related to unborn babies, I did it at the end-of-life issues as well."
Yes, indeed. I do hope that voters will remember Bush's shameful interference in the sad case of Terri Schiavo whose body was being sustained via feeding tube for years after she had suffered 14 minutes of brain hypoxia. As a recent article in the The Hill recounts:
Terri Schiavo made national news when her husband, Michael Schiavo, sought to have her feeding tube removed so she could be allowed to die. His request came eight years after she had suffered a cardiac arrest that left her in a persistent vegetative state with an estimated 80 percent of her brain lost. Michael Schiavo's request was supported by his, and others, recalling Terri saying that she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means or with tubes. Her mental state, according to her husband and doctors, had not improved despite years of aggressive rehabilitation. After hearing testimony about her prior statements from Michael, and related testimony from nearly 20 others, the court concurred that her condition was permanent, agreed that she had made statements consistent with a desire that she not be kept alive "attached to machines," appointed her husband as her surrogate and approved the removal of the tube. [Nevertheless] …
… a years-long legal battle ensued that involved 14 appeals, five federal lawsuits and numerous motions and petitions, including a brief written by Bush in support of the Schindlers' efforts to prevent the removal of the tube. After all appeals had been exhausted, Bush pushed through emergency Florida state legislation giving him extraordinary powers over Terri Schiavo's body. Bush used these powers to demand the reinsertion of her feeding tube, despite her statements as transmitted through her husband and accepted by the courts that she would not want to be maintained in this state.
Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Bush's intervention and the feeding tube was removed. But, as I reported, Bush was not done yet …
… a vindictive Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was not finished. After the autopsy report was released, Bush asked a Florida prosecutor to open another investigation into Schiavo's 1990 collapse. In July, the prosecutor informed Gov. Bush that he could find no proof that a crime had been committed and closed the case.
This week an ABC News poll shows that 64 percent of the American public believes removing Schiavo's feeding tube was the right thing to do. Remember that cynical Republican memo about what "good politics" the Schiavo case was? The new poll finds 61 percent of evangelical white Protestants and 73 percent of white Catholics agree that removing the tube was the right decision. Perhaps the ghoulish politicians who meddled in this private family tragedy have miscalculated and will be punished by the voters in November 2006. One can only hope.
Hope springs eternal.