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Congress, the Courts and the Terri Schiavo Case

Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A16

I have been following the case of Terri Schiavo closely because my mother was in a similar situation for 14 years.

I find it deeply disturbing to read that one of my senators, George Allen (R-Va.), watched videotapes of Mrs. Schiavo and felt that she "is conscious and has feelings" ["The Schiavo Case," editorial, March 18].

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I understand how he could believe that because our family wanted to believe the same about our mother. However, he is not an expert. Nor is Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) a neurologist ["Viewing Videotape, Frist Disputes Fla. Doctors' Diagnosis of Schiavo," news story, March 19]. Both seem to be pandering to conservative religious factions. It is an abuse of authority for Congress to vote on a bill that pertains solely to that family.

Terri Schiavo could live for 30 or 40 more years, but it is wishful thinking that she will ever get better.

ROCCO M. MARANO

Reston

The March 18 editorial about the legal actions concerning Terri Schiavo treated the matter as an issue of state court sovereignty instead of what it really is -- a cruel and unusual death sentence imposed on a person who is unable to defend herself.

The Post accepted the judgment of the Florida courts that Mrs. Schiavo does not want to live, but the courts have no way to determine this conclusively.

Mrs. Schiavo is not charged with a crime, she has not been tried and convicted by a jury of her peers, and she is not being given the right to die in a humane manner. We do not execute even mass murderers by starvation.

If the state court decision stands, what is to prevent death sentences from being judicially imposed on thousands of others nationwide who lack the mental capacity to decide their own fates?

GILBERT F. STROMVALL

Haymarket


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