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Congress, the Courts and the Terri Schiavo Case

Shorewood, Wis.

The writer is a neurologist.

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The Schiavo case is not a religious issue or one of right vs. left but a matter of protecting the civil rights of a person with severe disabilities.

On the one hand, extraordinary measures should not be required to keep people alive against their wishes. However, for several years I was employed as an advocate for people with disabilities, and I have many former clients who have more severe disabilities than Terri Schiavo; they live with their families in the community.

Mrs. Schiavo's medical condition does not appear to require skilled nursing or hospice care. A Florida judge has ordered that her feeding tube be removed and hasn't allowed her caretakers to attempt oral feeding. Is her death being allowed or mandated?

Michael Schiavo has "moved on" (his words) with his personal life. He remains married to Terri Schiavo for the purpose of retaining guardianship and ending her life. Terri Schiavo has no living will. George Felos has acted as attorney for both Schiavos; Judge George W. Greer has acted as both judge and Mrs. Schiavo's surrogate guardian. Have her rights under federal law been protected?

Our laws have evolved in many areas, and that federal courts have not previously determined whether fundamental federal rights were violated in such cases should not preclude Congress from passing laws allowing due process in these situations now.

LISA SCHELL

Houston

Is it just me, or am I witnessing the jettisoning of the "big tent" concept in the Republican Party?

I am to the right of Genghis Khan on foreign policy, moderate on domestic policy and cautiously conservative on "values" issues.

However, the involvement of the congressional leadership, the president and the Florida governor ["Congress Passes Schiavo Measure; Bush Signs Bill Giving U.S. Courts Jurisdiction in Case of Fla. Woman," front page, March 21] in what is basically a sad family issue lends credibility to the charge that the Republican leadership is, down deep, right wing.


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