Monday, Dec. 19, 2005

Terri Schiavo

Resting in Peace — at Long Last
Dying with dignity may be nice, but debating it can be a shabby business — or at least it was last spring in the run-up to the death of Terri Schiavo, 41. The severely brain-damaged Florida woman, who had been in a vegetative state since 1990, was at the center of a long battle over her husband's request to remove her feeding tube and let her die. The already painful drama got downright unseemly when politicians leaped in to mud-wrestle over it. Congress passed Schiavo-specific legislation to prevent the tube from being removed, and President Bush swept in to sign it, while ideologues on both sides of the right-to-die debate shouted at one another on TV. Finally the Supreme Court ended the show, refusing final appeals and letting Schiavo die. On March 31, her brain withered to half its normal size and her body just 112 lbs., she slipped away, her dignity intact — if nobody else's.