Different aspects of the Terri Schiavo case again were the subject of discussion at our staff meeting today in various ways.
In prayer for the concerns of the church, our senior pastor noted that we should be praying for the other residents of the hospice where Terri Schiavo is and their families. What must it be like for them to run this gauntlet of protestors, police and newsmen everyday? All of these families are facing end-of-life decisions and issues in different ways. Some of them, like the Schiavo/Schindler families, may be torn apart by disagreement over appropriate care or end-of-life decisions for someone they love. How hard it must be for them to have to deal daily with a situation that they did not create and cannot control while struggling with their own emotions and stressful situations! They must feel under seige themselves.
We made plans to begin a new Sunday School class topic to begin later in April that will be designed to help people learn more about the medical, ethical, economic and legal issues that have been raised publicly by the Schiavo case. The goal is to equip those who attend with information that will help them define and discuss their own values with their families in advance of any emergency or terminal illness. We're fortunate to have an associate pastor with experience as a hospital chaplain and with hospital boards of ethics who is planning the series and can invite experts to speak and answer questions .
So much irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric has been unleashed the past few weeks that I hope it will be possible to provide an atmosphere where these issues can be discussed "decently and in order" (as we Presbys love to say).
For those who would like to see a history of the litigation and legislative actions in this case, check out the University of Miami ethics program timeline (up to March 28, 2005 as I write this post). I was interested to note that the feeding tube was removed on two previous occasions and then restarted pursuant to court orders.
After reviewing that timeline I don't think there is any way that the litigation between Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers will end with her death. This timeline reveals so much bitterness between them that it is bound to continue in other forums with different charges as long as publicity and money can fuel legal action.