Skip to comments.Wesley J. Smith: Terri Schiavo Law As It Really Happened
Posted on 02/18/2012 12:46:43 PM PST by wagglebee
Yesterday, I bemoaned the latest historical revisionism about the passage of the federal law to protect Terri Schiavo. I am so sick of the pretense that it was a Republican theocratic gamewhen in reality, it was a very bipartisan bill choreographed through passage by the leaders of both partiesthat I decided to become an accurate history writer. From Obama and Santorum Agreed on Terri Schiavo Law in the Daily Caller:
Newt Gingrich likes to write alternate history novels, such as Gettysburg, in which the South wins the epochal battle that in the real world saved the Union. Such fantasies are harmless fun because everyone knows they merely are a game of lets play pretend. But some historical revisionism is politically pernicious. Case in point: Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as a credible candidate for the Republican nomination for president, some in the media and the Democratic Party are weaving a blatantly false narrative about the passage of the 2005 federal law intervening in the Terri Schiavo case. Supposedly, the alleged religious fanatic Rick Santorum he wants to outlaw contraception, dont you know! along with Republican theocratic coconspirators, overcame courageous Democrats objections to pass a law interfering with a husbands loving quest to give his wife the merciful release.
But that isnt even close to what happened seven years ago. In actuality, the Schiavo law was one of the most bipartisan laws passed during the entire Bush presidency.
I get into the details of why the law was proposed and note, as I did yesterday here and have repeatedly in other forums, that the bill received unanimous consent in the Senate, allowing it to be passed by voice vote without a quorum. I didnt write this, but behind the scenseI know because I was hip deep in the whole debaclesome liberal senators were active drivers of the law, for example Tom Harkin.
The House of Representatives showed the bipartisan nature the bills support:
Of course, it takes two houses of Congress to tango. So, in the House of Representatives, it was all Republican theocrats all of the time, right? Wrong. The New York Times reported at the time that leaders of both parties negotiated the final [terms of the] bill. Moreover, the Democratic leadership did not take an official position for or against the measure, surely an odd thing if the country was facing The Attack of the Theocrats. Most notably, because of the emergency nature of the bill, it needed 2/3 of the members voting to pass meaning it would be very difficult for the Republicans to enact the bill without Democratic help.
And they got that help:
The bill passed by 203-58. As in the Senate, the actual vote demonstrates that few Democratic members saw the bill as an assault on American freedom at the time. How else can you explain the fact that 102 Democrats were so unconcerned or less charitably, just unsure which way the political wind would blow that they didnt vote at all. (Seventy-one Republicans took the same easy way out, including Texas Representative Ron Paul.) Of the 100 Democrats who did vote, 47 voted yea and 53 nay meaning that in total, only 25% of the House caucus actually voted against the bill. Supporters included such notable Democrats as Jesse Jackson Jr., the powerful James Oberstar and Tennessean Harold Ford.
I describe how I think both sides of the argument came from places of integrity and honor. I then describe the genesis of the revisionism:
When polls showed in the wake of Terris death that most Americans opposed the federal law, suddenly the Democrats started finger-pointing. In a breathtaking example of rank opportunism, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean who had remained silent when the bill was up for a vote declared Democrats intended to make the law a partisan issue in the 2006 election, as if his own elected officials hadnt been full participants in the process.
I point out that Obama said in a 2008 debate that allowing the Schiavo Law through was his biggest mistake, and conclude:
One can believe Congress was right or wrong in passing the Terri Schiavo law. But no one should be allowed to rewrite history for rank partisan advantage. Those who now decry the law as an outrageous Republican power play are about as factual as Gingrichs novel is about the Battle of Gettysburg. But Gingrich was just having fun. The history revisers are dancing a political jig on Terry Schiavos grave.
Facts (still) matter.
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But see Schiavo Case. The antics in Congress & The White House probably cost the Republicans the 2006 election.
(The fact that Democrats also participated is not relevant. They did not have the vote of those of us who intend to uphold Constitutional principles. Those turned away from voting, the following year, were our Republican voters.)
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, ... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
American law, and common law before it going back over a thousand years is quite clear in that a person can only be put to death for committing a CAPITAL CRIME and in America such people are entitled to due process of law. Terri was not accused of a crime and was not granted due process.
Members of Congress swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, that's what they were doing.
The issue was who had the right to make medical decisions for the still no longer mentally competent women involved; and secondarily, what decision would she want made, if she had been competent to make that decision.
No one was trying to put her to death. The medical procedures involved had to do with keeping her artificially alive. For many, it seemed that what was going on was actually an unnatural abuse of a human body; but, again, that was not the issue either. The issues were who should have the say as to any medical procedure & what the afflicted woman would have wished.
The tangent Congress went off on did profound damage to the cause of stopping the legalized slaughter of innocent babies, because some of the media treated the one issue with the other. (Again, Schiavo Case.)
For any Republican candidate, today, to seek to resurrect the position that Congress took in 2005, is to alienate a significant number of voters for no possible advantage. The "science" of politics is to pick the most advantageous issues--so long as one does not surrender principle. And there is no principle involved in trying to defend a 7 year past mistake.
Nonsense, the issue was whether the state can order the death of a person who was not charged with a capital crime.
No one was trying to put her to death.
So, if you were denied food and water at gunpoint it would not be putting you to death?
The medical procedures involved had to do with keeping her artificially alive.
Wrong again, Terri required food and water, just like the rest of us.
For many, it seemed that what was going on was actually an unnatural abuse of a human body;
Really? Giving someone food and water is "abuse"?
The tangent Congress went off on did profound damage to the cause of stopping the legalized slaughter of innocent babies, because some of the media treated the one issue with the other.
No, the only problem with Congress is that they failed to follow the law they had passed and ignored the oath they took.
Bravo. Thanks for the post by Wesley Smith and your dedication to protecting all human life.
Jeb Bush doesn’t get a pass either. He caved for the GOP. Jeb talks tough but he turned out to be Governor Marshmellow.
Terri Day is March 31st. They go on the road to hold a celebration of her life. So, I don’t take part in that but people can have Terri day wherever they are. I think I just spelled marshmallow wrong. Whomever teies to make something of that, just let it go.