Wednesday, October 22, 2003

On Throwing out the Baby with Some Pesky Bathwater

All we think we know about headline news stories is filtered through the minds, hearts and profitability goals of reporters, editors and publishers. That is, unless we were eyewitnesses and know the involved parties, but that is rare.

The reported facts of the Terri Schiavo situation, coupled with the touching video of Terri recorded recently by her parents, are so horrifying and obviously evil that I found it easier to assume that the reporting was biased and incorrect, overhyped in relation to its importance, a la OJ and Kobe. I was wrong.

Here are the basic facts, as reported by MSNBC:
- Mrs. Schiavo survived a heart attack in 1990, but it left her substantially brain damaged.
- Mrs. Schiavo has since lived in a medical facility. She breathes on her own; she receives sustenance through a feeding tube.
- Mr. Schiavo is involved in a romantic relationship with another woman, and they have a child together.
- Mr. Schiavo declines to divorce his wife.
- If Mrs. Schiavo dies, Mr. Schiavo will inherit $750,000 that remains in a medical care trust account for Mrs. Schiavo.
- Mrs. Schiavo never signed a living will, which allows people to disconnect machines or feeding tubes should that person become comatose.
- Mr. Schiavo states that Mrs. Schiavo lives in a "persistent vegetative state."
- Two weeks ago, Mrs. Schiavo's parents made a video of her sitting with support, eyes sparkling, making sounds apparently in response to her mother.
- Many doctors have stated that with persistence, Mrs. Schiavo may be able to perform some basic care-taking tasks for herself. One of those tasks would be limited self-feeding, so that a feeding tube would be unnecessary.
- For five years, Mr. Schiavo has fought to have her feeding tube removed to cause her to die.
- Mrs. Schavio's feeding tube was removed on Oct 15, 2003, in response to a court order sought by her husband.
- Mrs. Schiavo was deprived of water and food for six days.
- Yesterday, per Florida legislation signed by the governor, Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube was reconnected.
- Mr. Schiavo's attorney stated today that "Terri Schiavo was literally abducted from her deathbed." They vow to continue this fight. As I write this, headlines state that Mr. Schiavo has forbidden her parents to visit her.

Of course, this struggle to cause Mrs. Schiavo to legally die by starvation is sickening and frighteningly evil. As I said here on Sept 5, this is to be expected in a society that does not respect each and every person's inalienable right to life.

What gives me pause here is how quick I was to blame the media and ignore the annoying hype surrounding this situation. In its drive for sensationalism to pump up sales and TV ratings, the media has cried a proverbial "wolf" thousands of times too often.

By tuning out all news and media hype, we may be throwing out our beloved baby to get rid of some pesky dirty bathwater.

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