Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Ubiquitous Terri Schiavo
Even on the unblemished beaches of northern Brazil, Terri Schaivo was making headlines in every newspaper. I returned from honeymoon to a postbox stuffed with The Economist, Time, Financial Times and other media extolling the various viewpoints on the issue that cleared forests of newsprint around the world. In the end, I'm glad it's all over, although it has raised some important discussive issues in the global psyche on the right to live.

My personal view, assuming Terri's husband's virtue, is that this was never a "right to life" debate, because Terri Schiavo had enunciated her wish to revoke her very right to life. This was a political debate from day one, and even last week, CNN reported polls showing the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting Schiavo's right to remove her feeding tube. This was a fight hijacked by Bush's Christian Right support, and the US political ponies' dancing to the music was evident to see. Congress coming in on a Sunday for an emergency sitting, forcing the Federal Courts to hear the case again? George Bush flying back from holiday to sign a bill into law? Governor Bush forcing the case to the Florida courts? I joined in the US population's irritation at the politcal involvement in the case.

However, my most important take out of the whole debacle was the strength of the separation of the judiciary and state. Here was a Governor, Congress, Senate and President pleading the case, and yet the Federal Court failed, no less than 6 times, to bow to the pressure. To me, that's a model of a strong fucntioning government.