EDITOR: I am responding to the letter from Father Frank Pavone
in the Oct. 28 edition of The Times. When I first read his letter,
I was stunned. His argument can effectively be summed up as
I am responding to the letter from Father Frank Pavone in the Oct. 28 edition of The Times. When I first read his letter, I was stunned. His argument can effectively be summed up as follows:
• Person A decides that a certain course of action is appropriate for person A
• Person B decides that a different course of action is appropriate for person B
• Person A decides that Person B doesn’t have a right to make their own decision, because it’s the “wrong” decision
The real issue in the Schiavo case is one of freedom. Do we, as citizens of a free country, want to be allowed to make our own decisions, even if someone else disagrees? There’s a word that’s used to describe the situation where people are not allowed to make their own decisions, and forced to obey the dicates of another. Slavery.
I can understand that Father Pavone might wish to survive indefinitely while hooked up to a machine. I can understand that the Schiavoes have decided otherwise. I can even understand that the husband-wife conversation would have addressed the issue, but that Terri might not have discussed this set of details with the rest of her family. Actually, that’s my situation – my wife and I understand our positions, and have written directives to authorize the other to make the decisions, but we haven’t discussed the details with the rest of the family, because it’s our business, not theirs. If the directive hadn’t been written though, I’d still expect my wife to make the decision, because she’s the person closest to, and most affected by, whatever situation might arise.
What I can’t understand is why Father Pavone thinks his decision for himself should supersede Terri Schiavo’s decision for herself. Perhaps Father Pavone can be forgiven for his ignorance of the marriage condition, since as a priest he’s not allowed to marry, just to counsel about it from the sidelines. I’d also be interested to learn just how much Father Pavone has contributed to the Schiavoes’ medical fund, since he’s effectively telling them that they have to maintain treatment and expenses that they don’t want. No doubt a portion of the funds from the abuse scandal could be set aside for their support of this form of slavery?
I’m beyond furious at Father Pavone’s definition of “heroes.” Is it really heroic to impose your will on others, just because you can? I thought this country stood for something different, for the rights of people to make their own choices without persecution. Certainly that’s what many of the folks who sailed the Atlantic in the 1600s and 1700s thought. That idea has been carried forward, to a greater or lesser degree, throughout our country’s history. Vigilance is the price of freedom – we can never surrender that basic principle.
I’m continually amazed that the people who want to eliminate big government seem to be the same people who don’t mind regulating the most personal of choices. We’re not going to evolve as a society until we recognize that other people may make other decisions, and that’s OK. The Schiavoes’ decision to discontinue care doesn’t hurt anyone else, and they should be allowed to make that decision without all of these other imposed viewpoints. Anything else, call it what you will, is just slavery. And so, in the end, I agree with just one of Father Pavone’s statements: “The case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is a test for all of us.”
Al Tervalon, Morgan Hill