Will Bush Face a Backlash in the Schiavo Case?


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Tampa federal court hearing on Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube ended late Monday afternoon without U.S. District Judge James Whittemore ruling on the case.

At least temporarily, the nonruling may have put a damper on further political maneuvering by members of Congress, led by Tom Delay, who has been trumpeting his “Palm Sunday compromise,” which purports to protect the constitutional rights of disabled persons. But cynical play for support among the Christian right and right to life movement supporters holds the potential for a backlash. An ABC poll released yesterday shows 60 percent of the nation against federal intervention.

The Schiavo case conceivably could also backfire on Bush. “In 1999, then Gov. Bush signed a law that ‘allows hospitals [to] discontinue life-sustaining care, even if patient family members disagree.’ Just days ago the law permitted Texas Children’s Hospital to remove the breathing tube from a 6-month-old boy named Sun Hudson,” according to a report by the Center for American Progress. “The law may soon be used to remove life support from Spiro Nikolouzos, a 68-year-old man. Bush has not commented on either case.”

Congressional intervention comes during Easter week, and the Catholic Church didn’t pass up an opportunity. Earlier today L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in a highly charged article said, “Terri’s long, heartbreaking agony today is the agony of the meaning of God, the lord and creator of life,” adding. “It is the agony of the love that can bend over the frail and needy. It is the agony of mankind.” The death of Terri now, the Vatican has said, would amount to euthanasia, “a pitiless way to kill,” as one official put it.