This horrible situation is not about disability civil rights. Instead, the Terri Schiavo case is about politics. It was President Bush who retreated from his vacation and pushed late-night legislation to involve the courts further. It was President Bush and other self-righteous conservative members of Congress who turned this human tragedy into a three-ring circus. Thank goodness this ill-timed strategy failed. However, I fear this is not over yet.
George Bush uses all the politically correct rhetoric about disability civil rights and so-called sanctity of life, but in reality he is no champion for Americans with disabilities.
When he was the Texas governor, he advocated for “pulling the plug” when taxpayers footed the bill. I didn’t know life came with a price tag? He does not support promised funding for Special Education. He wants to drastically cut Medicaid. He doesn’t even talk about the real economic crisis of Medicare, which is just a few years away. He only talks about creating “private accounts” for Social Security, which will dramatically hurt people with disabilities. Then there’s the Iraq war, which is bankrupting this country, killing more than 1,500 soldiers, and is responsible for creating thousands of disabled veterans to live in a mostly inaccessible world.
The only good thing to come from the Terri Schiavo case is that it is that I’m finally going to fill out my Living Will/Advanced Health Care Directive.
I remember senior citizens and family members in tears talking about the excruciating pain and suffering of their loved ones who were “plugged in” and kept breathing by technology and other unnatural means. They told legislators that they were faced with an overwhelming dilemma and that there was nothing they could do legally.
The opponents of Living Wills or Advanced Health Care Directives merely saw them as a means to willingly kill another person and readily used people with disabilities to make their case. I witnessed a person, using a wheelchair, rolling into the Capitol to testify in opposition to Living Wills. In spite of this drama, the Living Will bill passed and became Minnesota law.
People with disabilities were used then and are being used now in the Terri Schiavo case.
As a disabled person, I truly believe in civil rights. I truly believe in individual rights. And I will continue to fight for my freedom. However, I refuse to be anybody’s pawn for another agenda. I plan to use my rights as a Minnesota citizen by filling out my Living Will. I certainly don’t want to become the next Terri Schiavo.