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October 25, 2003
Column #1,156

Two Pro-Life Victories On One Day

     October 21, 2003 was the best day for pro-life forces in three decades.

     Elected representatives in both the U.S. Congress and the Florida State Legislature "took action to protect the sanctity of life at both ends of the spectrum: rescuing both Terri Shiavo and countless unborn children from American courts that had previously deemed their lives worthless," asserted Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council.

     By a wide 64-34 margin, the U.S. Senate passed a ban on "partial-birth abortion." It is the first limitation of abortion on demand granted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Paired with a 287-133 vote in the House, the bill becomes law and President Bush will sign it.

     His brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, signed a law passed the Legislature to save the life of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman. Her husband, Michael, had persuaded courts to remove a feeding tube and another providing hydration on October 15. The tubes were reinserted October 21.

     The Bush brothers inspired two legislative bodies to overrule court decisions, a powerful precedent which gives hope that the political process can reassert authority over an often runaway judiciary which has ignored the public will on many issues.

     For example, polls show a 70 percent public support for prohibiting a doctor from delivering a premature healthy infant until only its head remains in the womb, which is punctured with seven-inch scissors and its brain is sucked out.

     Yet the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision, that a Nebraska law prohibiting partial birth abortion, was unconstitutional. Abortion advocates hope the court will also overturn the new federal law. The issue will be "Does the Constitution really guarantee a right to deliver a premature infant to within inches of complete birth and then kill her?" asks Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life. Hopefully, a more conservative court will say no.

     Michael Schiavo's motives in seeking a court order to kill his wife are shamelessly transparent. First, he stands to inherit whatever is left of a $1.6 million fund to give her medical care. He won two malpractice lawsuits over her medical treatment which led to her impairment.

     During one trial he testified that he became a nurse so that he "could learn more how to take care of Terri." He added, "I believe in the vows I took with my wife, through sickness, in health, for richer or poor. I married my wife because I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I'm going to do that."

     However, less than a year after getting the award, he began legal action to end her life. By the end of 2001 he had spent $440,226 of her trust fund set aside for her care, in legal fees.

     Michael's second motive for wanting to pull the plug is that he is living with a woman, who has given birth to their child, and who is pregnant again. If Terri were to die, he could marry the woman and inherit what's left of the trust fund.

     He now claims "she wouldn't want to live this way." But that's not what he said when he was seeking funds in a malpractice suit. Nor is there any documentation she had a desire to be starved to death and deprived of water.

     By contrast, Terri's parents want to care for her. Why? They truly love her. And, contrary to what some media stories have alleged, Terri is NOT comatose, in a persistent vegetative state, or near death. Her brain is damaged. However, videos show her eyes are open and follow people around the room. She smiles at her mother and has called her Mommy.

     "If they are successful in killing Terri, there are tens of thousands who would qualify for the same treatment," said Joni Eareackson Tada, the quadriplegic injured in a diving accident, on Wednesday's "Focus on the Family" radio program.

     I have a mentally retarded sister. Would she be next on some court's starvation list?

     This nation was founded to preserve "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Not life of the rich and powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. There are such countries, such as Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

     America bears a higher torch, a vision that all of God's people are precious. It is a vision of Scripture: "Speak up for those who cannot defend themselves." Proverbs 31:8.

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