|... appears to have prevailed in the Terri Schiavo case, at least for now. A federal judge has sided with Schiavo's husband Michael in his battle to carry out what he says would be her wishes -- to have her feeding tube removed (and keep it removed).
But oh, wait, here comes Congress again, big footing this issue even more than they already have, if that's possible. This time, they're vowing to waste even more of the public's time and money "dealing with" end-of-life issues. Take it away, Reuters:
WASHINGTON - When Congress passed extraordinary legislation in the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman, it also paved the way for broader congressional debate on end-of-life issues and the rights of incapacitated people.
Some legal experts and medical ethicists, however, believe that Congress should not expand the federal role in an area that has been the realm of state lawmakers and state courts.
"We've had a framework for 30 years and this case hasn't changed it," said Jonathan Moreno, a biomedical ethicist at the University of Virginia. "There's nothing unique about the case ethically, medically or legally except it's become a political cause celebre."
Alta Charo, an ethicist at the University of Wisconsin, said courts have already determined that there is a "constitutional right to personal autonomy, including to control the manner of your death... That's been in American national law for decades."
An ABC News poll showed that most Americans disapproved of Congress's intervention. Two-thirds said they thought lawmakers were using the case of Terri Schiavo for political gain, and 70 percent deemed the congressional action inappropriate, according to the poll published on Monday.
And so it's steroids in baseball all over again ...
Two congressional committees intend to hold hearings related to the case in the next week and several lawmakers -- mostly Republicans but also some Democrats -- have urged Congress to scrutinize the care of the disabled and the potential role of the federal judiciary.
"Every precaution should be taken to learn and respect their (incapacitated people) desires regarding the removal of life support," Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, said this weekend.
Other lawmakers, including Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson [he's up for reelection in 2006, mind you -- my note] and Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, have introduced legislation to encourage more Americans to sign advanced medical directives or living wills. Their legislation would allow Medicare to pay for elderly people to consult with their doctors in advance about end-of-life care. It would not affect how states deal with cases like that of Terri Schiavo.
Aye Dios mio! So now they're going to write some cockamamy law directing us to create a living will? Or else what? Are they gonna start locking people up if they refuse? Where does this federal overreach end?
Charo, for one, isn't taking any chances. "I'm going home and rewriting my advanced directive tonight," she said. "It's now going to include that I not want my case brought to federal courts, President Bush, members of Congress or the governor of my state in the case of any dispute."
I'm with you, Charo!