After years of judicial squabbling, Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s life is now held in the hands of a small group of people who have taken oaths to protect life, to defend the innocent and to rescue the oppressed.
The decade-long legal struggle to save Terri’s life has come down to this question: Will any of these people choose to fulfill their promises?
Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and members of the Florida Legislature pledged to uphold the Florida Constitution, which states, “All natural persons … are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness … No person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin or physical disability.”
Bush presides over a state whose population boasts the highest percentage of retired citizens in the nation. If he is not willing to fulfill his oath of office for someone with a physical disability, what does it portend for elderly residents of Florida as they confront health problems in the future?
Physicians, including those who care for Terri Schiavo, took a vow called the Hippocratic Oath in which they promise to “apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”
Clearly, the original intent of the Hippocratic Oath was to ensure that physicians, who bear such enormous responsibility for the care of others, use their expertise solely for the purpose of benefiting the sick. Yet many Florida physicians are rejecting their oaths by refusing to rise up and decry the despicable treatment of Terri Schiavo.
Florida lawyers swear an Oath of Admission to the Florida Bar, which states that they “will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice. So help me God.”
Has “right-to-die” attorney George Felos conveniently forgotten that oath in his rampant desire to spread euthanasia from sea to shining sea, while simultaneously lining his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of “lucre”?
The president of the United States, in his oath of office, vows to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” a Constitution whose Fourteenth Amendment states that government cannot “deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Is President Bush too busy meeting and greeting world leaders to get involved, even in a small way, with one of the most vulnerable of his constituents?
Husbands make a solemn vow to their wives during the ceremony of marriage, promising to “love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her.” Why is Michael Schiavo breaking this vow, especially since he has chosen not to divorce his ailing wife even though he is in an adulterous relationship with another woman?
So many promises, so little meaning.
In the Culture of Death that rests its grisly hand on our nation, oaths are too easily broken, promises too easily forgotten and lives too easily taken.
Mr. President, Gov. Bush, Florida physicians, George Felos, Michael Schiavo – the time has come for you to fulfill your vows. To fulfill your vows as a loving husband, even if your wife is disabled; to fulfill the vows of your profession, even if doing so is difficult or controversial; to fulfill your vows as elected officials and protectors of the weak and disenfranchised, even if those who preach death fight against you.
Elected officials, it’s time to stop passing the buck to someone else. Remember that it was the so-called “values voter” who handed President Bush a second term victory on a silver platter. We are ready to begin a new culture of life in this great country, and we expect you to join us. In fact, we expect you to lead us.
If you cannot do that, we will replace you with those who can.
Callie Woodlief is a freelance writer and professional homemaker who home-educated two children who are now political activists as adults. Her work has been featured in several online publications. Woodlief is currently working on a book promoting child advocacy.