Florida Case Lamented by Vatican Newspaper

Parents Appeal U.S. Judge’s Refusal to Reinsert Feeding Tube

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The legal complexities of Terri Schiavo’s case may obscure the fact that a person is being condemned to die of hunger and thirst, warns the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper.

In today’s Italian edition, L’Osservatore Romano points out that since last Friday, the brain-damaged woman in Florida whose feeding tube has been removed “is not being denied medicines, special treatments or palliatives, but that which for basic reasons of humanity would not be taken away from the most vile and miserable being.”

Meanwhile, Schiavo’s parents begged a federal appeals court to order the woman’s feeding tube reinserted.

An attorney for parents Bob and Mary Schindler told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, that the 41-year-old woman might die before they could get a chance to fully argue their case that her rights are being violated.

The appeal today came after a federal district judge in Florida rejected the parents’ emergency request.

L’Osservatore Romano in its article said that amid the exchange of accusations, appeals and judicial surprises in the case, there is a risk of losing sight of the crux of the problem.

“There is a woman in a Miami hospital who is about to die of hunger and thirst,” insists the Holy See newspaper.

“A person — not a ‘vegetable’ — is slowly dying while the world watches impotently through television and newspapers,” it said. “Her real drama, instead of inspiring a wave of generalized mercy and solidarity, is suffocated by the indecent quest to arrogate to oneself the right to decide on the life and death of a human creature.”

“To what chilling eugenic mentality belongs the principle, according to which, life — even if it is diminished and suffering — depends on a judgment of quality expressed by other people?” asks the article written by Francesco Valiante.

“Who can judge the dignity and sacred character of a man’s existence, made in the ‘image and likeness of God’?” he continues. “The doctors whose professional deontology in this case more than ever should make them bring out of their memory chest the known principle ‘to cure if possible, always to care’? Terri’s parents, who gave her life 41 years ago?

“Or her husband who one day promised ‘to love and to honor her, in health and in sickness’ and who today has become her coldest and most merciless executioner?”

“Terri’s slow and heartbreaking agony is today the agony of the sense of God, Lord of life,” Valiante writes. “It is the agony of love that know how to bend down to the frail and needy. It is the agony of humanity.”

Early Monday, U.S. President George Bush signed into law a “private relief” bill passed by Congress over the weekend for the parents of Terri Schiavo. The law gave Schiavo’s parents the right to make claims in a federal court for the protection of her constitutional rights.

“We commend the president and members of the House and Senate for making it possible for Terri Schiavo’s parents to present their case in federal court,” said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

“Terri Schiavo is not terminally ill; she is a woman with cognitive disabilities,” Doerflinger said. “This law ensures that the decision to discontinue her assisted feeding will be reviewed with full attention to her legal rights.”

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