Friday, March 11

WELL-INTENTIONED, BUT UNLIKELY DENOUEMENT IN TERRI SCHIAVO TRAGEDY

I watched California businessman Robert Herring, Sr. (accompanied by his self-aggrandizing, publicity-hound of an attorney, Gloria Allred) being interviewed on the Hannity & Colmes show last night, and I found Mr. Herring's intentions genuine. He has made a $1 million offer to Michael Schiavo to agree to the transfer of legal guardianship for his wife Terri to her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, in order to preclude Terri's court-ordered death by starvation and dehydration. While at this point, and with her life hanging desparately in the balance, I will accept any solution, including the one proposed by Mr. Herring, I nonetheless feel compelled to express some reservations.

First, I am not so sure that it is as easy as all this. If the bullheaded, "Kill The Bitch" Michael Schiavo were to acquiesce and accept Robert Herring's quid pro quo terms, I suspect (I'm not an attorney) that Judge Greer would still have the final say and we all know how intractably hard-hearted he has been all along the way. Moreover, and apart from Judge Greer's steely determination to see Terri Schindler-Schiavo's death become an inevitability commencing March 18th, it strikes me as naive to think that Michael Schiavo would want to end this long legal tangle by confirming for the world that it's truly all about showing him the money and not about his steadfast, albeit misguided, determination to see that his wife's purported wishes are carried out by the courts. Fact is, Mr. Schiavo may have so convinced himself by now that he is in the right and doing the right thing that the magnanimous offer from Mr. Herring may be construed as insulting, arrogantly condescending, and a slap at his personal integrity. And no doubt even if Michael were to begin equivocating, does anyone doubt for a minute that his right-to-die attorney George Felos wouldn't easily prevail in restoring Michael's determination to see this thing through? The two are in lockstep.

Second, it is important, I think, that we see beyond Terri Schiavo, beyond the immediate gravity of her situation, and focus on the implications for many Florida citizens of what may be done to her by an activist judge. In that context, I would much rather see the appellate court step up or, absent it, the United States Supreme Court, or, absent both, for the Florida legislature to pass bill HB 701. Better that a judge's ruling or new law save Terri (and others like her down the road), then for the exchange of money to accomplish what the courts or the legislature would not, or the governor could not. A cognitively disabled woman's life should not be ransomed. It should be protected by the law and the correct interpretation of it.

Third, Mr. Herring's noble effort to leverage his wealth on behalf of Terri Schiavo, her parents and siblings, is tainted in my view by him having retained the legal services of the ubiquitous, celebrity-attorney, Gloria Allred, a well-known feminist who has never to my knowledge betrayed Pro-Life leanings. Her presence, confirmed by her behavior on Fox cable last night, only adds to the three-ring circus atmosphere that regrettably detracts from this enormous human tragedy and turns it in the direction of a mawkish sideshow.

I want Terri Schiavo to live, to live with dignity, and to receive the medical tests, rehabilitative therapy, and loving caregiving of her parents, brother and sister. All are long overdue. Maybe in the final analysis the means to that end is not as important as the end result itself -- her life. But I worry nonetheless that the law could get shortchanged were big money to change hands.