Exploitation of Schiavo for political gains must be stopped

Terri Schiavo’s case has been discussed at length. One either agrees with her husband or her parents. But personal opinion had little to do with the most recent developments. It has become an attempt to cash in on an individual’s personal distress to further a political agenda.

Last weekend’s “emergency session” by Congress was little more than excessive chest-thumping. Individuals such as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) went on oratory crusades, abusing Schiavo’s plight for their own political gains.

DeLay took this despicable art form to new heights when he spoke in front of a conservative Christian group. “One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help us elevate the visibility of what is going on in America,” he said to the crowd. “This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and many others. A huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in.”

DeLay himself made the news due to being cited for numerous ethics violations by the House of Representatives. To keep him from having to step down, as House rules would have required, the Republican majority voted to simply change the rules. For politicians such as DeLay to trample over personal rights to put themselves into the political limelight is as troubling as it is repulsive, and his insinuation that God intentionally made Schiavo suffer just to convince people of DeLay’s own beliefs defies description.

Similarly other politicians are ready to exploit the case. A talking-points outline circulated in Congress by an anonymous Republican made this abundantly clear.

There is hardly any human being that is not moved by the plight surrounding Schiavo’s ongoing vegetative state. But for Congress and the president to get involved, it would have to concern more than one person as the underlying principle of American being a “nation of laws, not of people” clearly states.

If politics was to include legislation of the life (or in this case death) of an American citizen, as Congress seems to imply, we may as well throw any pretension of personal rights, as well as autonomy of states, overboard.

In recent years, politics have increasingly involved ignoring rules wherever convenient. But when entire families’ lives get mangled by competing political factions, it should be an indication that this tactic is getting extremely out of hand.