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Paper Says Schiavo Case About Defense of Marriage

The Terri Schiavo case proves that conservative Christians pushing for Federal Marriage Amendment are actually anti-marriage, according to an investigative report on a pro-polygamy Web site.

Mark Henkel, founder of TruthBearer.org, a non-Mormon organization that believes the Bible doesn’t prohibit having more than one wife, wrote a 10,000-word essay arguing that the Schiavo case should never have been portrayed as a pro-life struggle, but rather as a defense of marriage.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
The article portrays Michael Schiavo as a loving husband who remained faithful to his wife’s care, despite meddling in-laws who tried to get courts to interfere in their marriage.
 
It notes that many conservative judges hearing the case saw it differently from conservatives in general. The reason, it concludes, is that the courts knew all the facts.
 
The article, which includes URL links to several news reports and legal documents cited as references, also contends:
 
–It took three years after Terri Schiavo’s 1990 cardiac arrest for her husband to come to terms with the reality she would not recover and accept the idea of letting her die naturally.
 
–Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, originally agreed with her diagnosis as a persistent vegetative state and urged him to begin dating.
 
–That amicable relationship changed on Valentines Day in 1993, when Michael Schiavo says the Schindlers asked him about getting their portion of a $300,000 “loss of consortium” award to him as part of a $1 million medical malpractice claim.
 
–The Schindlers tell a different story, but Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer ruled in February 2000 that while it is unclear whether any promises had been made, it was Michael’s refusal to equally divide the award with the Schindlers that created the breach.
 
–After that, the Schindlers filed a court petition asking that Michael Schiavo be removed as Terri’s legal guardian and began circulating new stories. They included allegations that Michael had strangled Terri that night in 1990, that he abused her throughout their marriage and that he “tried to kill” her in 1994, when in consultation with a doctor he elected not to treat a urinary-tract infection and to impose a do-not-resuscitate order if she went into cardiac arrest.
 
–Reports that he had two children with another woman were unclear that the first child’s birth came 12 years after Terri’s tragedy, nine years after the Schindlers urged him to start dating again, four years after he filed his first petition to have her feeding tube removed and two years after the first court order authorizing its removal.
 
–While Michael Schiavor said his wife told him she did not want to be kept alive artificially, the Schindlers said in court they would have fought removal of the feeding tube even if Terri had specified it in a living will.
 
–Conservative media ran with the Schindlers’ story. Instead of believing the husband, they chose to report from the perspective of the in-laws, embracing the “classic anti-man radical feminist agenda to never believe the husband.”
 
–Conservative media sites like WorldNetDaily.com and NewsMax.com committed “danratherisms”—a reference to the retired CBS anchorman disgraced when documents challenging President Bush’s military record proved to be false—by repeating unverified allegations by Terri Schiavo’s parents without double-checking the facts.
 
–Sincere pro-life protestors, meanwhile, confused the issues, by asserting Terri was being “cruelly deprived of food and water.” In fact she had not eaten or drunk anything since 1990. She received nutrition and hydration artificially through a modern-technology feeding tube, and if one of the protestors trying to bring her water during her final days had succeeded, she would have been unable to swallow it and might have drowned.
 
–Many argued that a feeding tube is different from other life support, but both <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Florida law and guidelines by the American College of Cardinals define feeding tubes as artificial life support. A decision to remove a feeding tube is no different than removing a respirator from someone whose lungs have failed or a dialysis machine from someone with kidney failure, other than the length of time it takes for natural death to follow.
 
–“Liberal activist judges” who allowed her to die were the same court system that awarded the disputed 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.
 
–The Schiavo case went several times to the U.S. Supreme Court, and not once did the court’s most conservative justices, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas or William Renhquist, offer any dissent.
 
–The Schindlers were incorrectly referred to as “Terri’s family,” but they technically were not. According to the Bible, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh,” Terri’s family is her husband.
 
–Numerous reports described Michael Schiavo as Terri’s “estranged” husband, which was never the case. Instead of defending the intimacy of conversations between a husband and wife, they undermined the validity of marriage by dismissing Michael’s testimony about Terri’s wishes as “hearsay.”
 
Most surprising, the article says, was widespread acceptance of the Schindlers’ suggestion that Michael Schiavo ought to “just divorce” Terri so they could care for her.
 
“No marriage-committed wife would ever want to die as being divorced from her husband, and no husband would want that either,” Henkel wrote. “No wonder Michael Schiavo rightly rejected such an offensive offer.”
 
“True marriage proponents would never even begin to contemplate the anti-marriage idea of a divorce of a couple who clearly love each other,” he continued. “Indeed, that very suggestion is downright offensive to anyone who is genuinely committed to the institution of marriage.”
 
The article singles out Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who appeared March 27 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert.
 
Land, who supports an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between a man and woman, said he was shocked that parents have so few rights and called for laws allowing any related person to have veto power over a spouse if there is a dispute over end-of-life decisions.
 
“If somebody doesn’t have a living will and the next of kin disagree on whether the person should be kept alive or that whether food and water should be taken away and her life ended … really the benefit of the doubt ought to be given to life,” Land said.
 
That “anti-marriage suggestion,” the article says, “would empower any dysfunctional in-law to fraudulently exploit that kind of ‘pro-life position’ to explicitly undermine, filibuster and overturn the intimate relationship and discussions between a husband and wife.”
 
The article also blasts Land’s “big-government belief” that “the law exists to express our values.”
 
“Such ideology, of course, is not conservative or Christian in any way whatsoever. After all, any government that is liberally authorized to be used for social engineering to ‘express conservative values’ can just as easily be later exploited to ‘express liberal values.'”
 
The article’s foreward describes the author as “an established Christian polygamy advocate who is a truly constitutional conservative and an adamantly pro-life, Bible-believing Christian.”
 
It is described as a “must read” for both conservatives and liberals, because as Christian polygamists think for themselves and study the Bible more diligently than others, the same method of seeking out only the true facts is equally applied to the Schiavo case.
 
“In this case, supposed-to-be conservatives who claim to want to ‘protect marriage’ had the opportunity to do just that,” the article concludes. “But instead of ‘protecting marriage’ in the Schiavo case, they decidedly turned against it.”
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.