Michael Schiavo is to the euthanasia movement what Norma McCorvey was to the abortion movement: a pawn.

Pro-lifers have warned for years that the next insurgency to expect from the culture of death was “mercy killing,” and during Holy Week 2005 this was indeed thrust upon America with a vengeance. It was logical – the flip side of abortion, the condoned killing of unwanted born people.

Now, the pro-life movement will have to expand its teaching and actions to truly demonstrate love for those who have hated us, as Jesus said to do. Because the very people whose lives we will next be seeking to protect will include those who have been spitting on us for over 30 years.

Jesus. That reminds me.

Of all the inhumane orders I learned Judge George Greer imposed to speed Terri Schiavo’s death, what ended up distressing me the most was learning he had gone so far as to disallow swabbing her parched mouth with anything other than a dry q-tip. He also prohibited ice chips to moisten her cracked lips.

Greer was apparently so hyper-concerned that sneaky nursing staff or family would violate his order to starve and dehydrate Terri to death, he withdrew one of the most compassionate and meaningful ways to care for debilitated and dying patients: swabbing their mouths with a cool, moist sponge. This is also an important safeguard against mouth sores and infections, although I expect in Terri’s case this was a hope.

I am a registered nurse who has cared for suffering people. Hospitals and nursing homes stock little mint-flavored sponges on lollypop sticks specifically designed to give proper oral care for incapacitated patients, even and particularly those who cannot swallow.

I have seen the relief come over faces as I provided this meekest of mercies, to run a moistened swab inside a parched mouth and over furred tongue.

When Jesus hung dying on the cross, even the Roman soldiers offered Him this benevolence. “After this, when Jesus knew that everything had now been finished, he said, ‘I’m thirsty.’ He said this so that Scripture could finally be concluded. A jar filled with wine vinegar was there. So the soldiers put a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick and held it to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and died” (John 19:28-30).

Whether or not the Roman soldiers provided this relief to Jesus in mockery, as Luke’s account indicates (23:36-37), the fact is they did it. Also, the fact that a sponge and wine vinegar were there in the first place indicates foresight and compassion on someone’s part for those being tortured by crucifixion.

It appears that Judge George Greer had less compassion toward dying Terri Schiavo than even the Roman soldiers had toward dying Jesus.

Nevertheless, His example sets our course.

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