Monday, March 21, 2005

Persistent Vegetative Thinking

White House spokesman, Scott McClellan says "We ought to err on the side of life in a case like this."

The case to which he refers is the one about the severely brain damaged Terri Schiavo, the woman whose husband is struggling to be granted the right to allow her to die.

Despite the fact that most medical authorities and 10 court rulings have already determined that she is in a "persistent vegetative state" and incapable of even the most rudimentary human functioning, Congress voted on Sunday 203-58 (and at an estimated cost of between 4 and 5 million dollars) to interfere and grant an emergency injunction to Ms. Schiavo's parents to reinsert a feeding tube.

Even the Vatican felt obliged to offer an opinion in support of what Republicans and others euphemistically call the "culture of life".

I can understand disagreement and ambivalence on this issue. Certainly when it came to my own grandmother, I had mixed feelings about using extraordinary means to prolong her life.

But what really boggles my mind is the cognitive dissonance of a country whose politicians are quite willing to interfere with the courts and the woman's next of kin at a cost of millions of dollars, but who cannot do anything significant about 45 million Americans who have no health insurance. The United States appears to be a country of grand gestures and extravagance with little sense of proportionality.

How many people do you think have died in the United States because of the failure of its government to provide even elementary healthcare to ALL its citizens?

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