Friday, June 17, 2005

Jeb Won't Let Issue, Terri Die

Florida's Governor Jeb Bush, who fought tooth and nail to keep Terri Schiavo alive in a persistent vegetative state, is refusing to let the issue die months after Terri passed away in a Florida hospice. Bush is calling for an investigation into whether Schiavo's husband, Michael, should be prosecuted for allegedly waiting 70 minutes before calling 911 after his wife collapsed in 1990.

The explosive charge is based solely upon Michael's recollection of a traumatic event some fifteen years ago. Michael told the Medical Examiner's Office that he found his wife at 4:30 a.m., but 911 records show that his emergency call was not placed until 5:40 a.m. Jeb Bush and Terri's parents are interpreting this as a possibly criminal act.

That said, it is extraordinarily unlikely that this is anything more than a foggy memory. Both Michael Shiavo's attorney and an independent expert interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times for their story contend that Terri would have been dead if seventy minutes had really elapsed before her treatment began (paramedics got her pulse started at 6:32 a.m., which would have been over two hours since her collapse if the allegation is true).

Politically, for Governor Bush, this is an unconscionable attempt to keep the Schiavo issue afloat in order to pander to right-wing supporters and to save face after the embarrassment of the bogus court battle to save her life and now the medical evidence disclosed in the autopsy report which vindicates the other side.

For the family, there is a sad but perhaps understandable unwillingness to accept this tragic situation. This is their last-ditch effort to find a scapegoat upon which they can transfer their pain and anguish. The fact that they feel it necessary to deny to Michael the sorrow that they themselves feel is horrible, yet at least it makes sense in the context of their inability to handle grief. But what can be excused on one hand as the irrational behavior of a heartbroken family, becomes, for Jeb and others trying to capitalize on this tragedy, a vile reminder of what politics has become in the 21st Century.
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