Q: In light of the Terri Schiavo case, should elected officials intervene in end-of-life decisions?
The Terri Schiavo case has demonstrated that President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress, driven by their right-wing Christian supporters, have absolutely no intention of getting the government "off the backs of the American people." Indeed, they mean to meddle in the most private areas of our lives. Those of us who still cherish freedom ought to be deeply troubled. Congress' intervention was nothing but a naked attempt to promote a narrow-minded fundamentalist agenda by running roughshod over our constitutional system of checks and balances.
Dave Goddard, Williamsville
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Absolutely. Our Constitution begins with: "We the people," not "we the state" or "we the judiciary." Here's the justification: You don't starve a human being to death! We offer criminals a more humane way to die.
Paul J. Iannuzzelli, Cheektowaga
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It angers me that politicians have inserted themselves into what should be a private family matter, and it absolutely terrifies me at the precedent now being set. The Bush brothers -- or rather, Big Brothers Bush -- are examples of the worst kind of arrogance and misuse of power. If it were not for the judges hearing this case, our laws wouldn't be worth the paper they are printed on.
Deborah Valentine, Hamburg
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Every avenue should be taken in end-of-life decisions when there exists no documentation as to the individual's wishes. If it is in the power of elected officials to protect an individual, this is the civilized course of action. Anything less is inhumane. Terri Schiavo was not dying. She simply needed nourishment to live. How is it possible in this "land of plenty" that a human is treated with less dignity and consideration than a family pet?
Beverly Ruhland, South Wales
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A relevant biblical passage in Ecclesiastes states: "There is a time to be born and a time to die." Terri Schiavo's time to die came when meaningful life became impossible and she could live only by artificial means. Continuing her suffering has no biblical basis. The courts have also ruled consistently. There is no reason, religious or legal, to keep Schiavo "alive." Elected officials should not intervene directly in such decisions.
Charles P. Jamieson, Buffalo
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My father died three weeks ago. His written and verbal wishes were that no artificial nutrition or hydration be given. He lived 10 days, according to his wishes. Doctors explained that he would not suffer and artificial means would only prolong his "existence," with no hope for quality of life. Was it hard? Sure it was. Was I grateful the government could not override his wishes? Absolutely. Every situation is different -- but personal. In my opinion, government has no place in these decisions.
Maureen Andrews, Angola
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Such decisions belong to next of kin only, not to agenda-bearing crusaders who obfuscate real issues. But in co-habitating with and fathering the children of another woman, Michael Schiavo broke the bonds of marriage and should have lost any voice in this matter. This tragic case highlights the need for all to designate a health care proxy and to articulate end-of-life wishes, and the need for strong advocacy for the rights of those who are unable to speak for themselves.
Mary Claire Kosek, Buffalo
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The 14th Amendment empowers Congress "to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." The amendment enjoins states to afford persons equal protection of the laws. Rulings against Terri Schiavo's parents by federal Judge James Whittemore transmogrify the intent of that amendment. Terri's father rightly describes this tragedy as "judicial homicide."
Richard H. Escobales Jr., Buffalo
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Our governmental leaders who have gotten involved in this mess are nothing short of hypocrites since we have countless prisoners sitting on death row. So much for Bush's belief that we should "err on the side of life." Terri Schiavo had told her husband that she would never want to live like this. Who in their right mind would? Fifteen years is enough.
Ann Finkle, North Tonawanda
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Elected officials should intervene only if they are representing a Christian nation that believes in upholding the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until death. A nation will be judged by its initiative to protect its weakest members. If it does not, all life is compromised, society is corrupted and the soul of a nation is defiled.
Dawn Curazzato, Williamsville