Last night I got an email from a supporter of the Terri Schiavo campaign, asking me to join a “Blogburst” in their support. I clicked on the link in the email, and I discovered a blog with a hard-line American neo-con religious right stance. The blog roll includes LGF, Jihad / Dhimmi Watch, Backcountry Conservative and Internet Haganah, and the content has a lot of stuff about Schiavo, but also a lot of anti-Muslim content. I’m not sure why the person who sent this email included me, because I’m not willing to give support to anti-Muslim bigots, much as I wholly support the Schiavo campaign itself (perhaps they saw this earlier entry). As far as I’ve heard, the case is cut and dried - the poor lady is the victim of a campaign by her husband to use the law to bump her off, so that he can marry his girlfriend, and he has claimed (but not provided a signed statement from her to this effect) that she had said she wanted to be “let go” in the event of something like this happened. If this really is just his word, then it shouldn’t be taken as evidence, because it’s unsupported and coming from someone with something to gain.
I’m on the wrong side of the Atlantic to know the full details of this case, but I did see an article by Suzanne Goldenberg in the (liberal) Guardian newspaper, Playing God, accusing Terri Schiavo’s parents of collaborating with the Religious Right and “turn[ing] this very private tragedy into a national pro-life pageant”. Goldenberg makes much of the Right’s involvement in the campaign, its advantage to them, and the emotional content of the campaign. But this really isn’t an argument, any more than showing that Hitler supported something (such as banning fox hunting) is enough to discredit it. The religious right are known to over-emotionalise issues like abortion, and draw public anger onto poor women rather than, say, companies whose bad safety records kill workers, or politicians who start wars with dubious intentions.
The thing I find disturbing about attempts to switch off Terri Schiavo’s life support is that she is clearly conscious. The claim is that she is in a “persistent vegetative state”, which clearly connotes lack of consciousness (as in the case of Tony Bland, a young man who ended up in such a state after the Hillsborough football [soccer] stadium disaster). Goldenberg notes that “her eyes are open, her limbs are contracted, she smiles and grunts occasionally, but without any sense of purpose, according to the majority medical opinion presented to the courts”, but some of the people I’ve been working with the past few days do not apparently have much more ability than that. If Janice, probably the least able of the “clients” I deal with, was unable to push herself around, but lay in bed instead, would anyone consider not feeding her? What a horrifying thought.
Yesterday the BBC aired an interview with the Reverend Joanna Jepson, a curate with the Church of England who has been leading a legal effort to prevent babies being aborted because of a cleft palate. In the case she challenged, the baby was aborted after the normal legal limit, which is allowed in special circumstances; Jepson, who had a jaw deformity herself which was fixed by surgery when she became adult, didn’t see a cleft palate as being special enough. In this interview, I was disappointed with Jepson’s replies to the interviewer’s questions. She is clearly of the position that she couldn’t condemn a woman for having an abortion in some circumstances, but failed to distinguish this from the issue of aborting babies because they are in some way abnormal. I can’t find the interview on the BBC’s website now (you can hear another interview with her here though), but she wouldn’t go much further than to say that the law puts a limit on how late an abortion can be carried out, and that the exception made for the abortion in the case she challenged was illegal. I think we need people to be stronger than this in campaigning against the killing of babies simply because they are abnormal or disabled. It’s just not right, and should not be a matter or right or left, but right or wrong.
Anyway, I’ll include a link (insha Allah) to the main Terri’s Fight page. I’m not going to join this blog-roll of theirs.
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