A dangerous precedent...

Refuse a medical procedure or undergo one? Matters of life or death. These are difficult, painful and deeply personal issues, which individuals and families confront daily. Who makes such stressful decisions? If not the individual, then the closest family member empowered by law? Or should it be the U.S. Congress?

Apparently those who are driven by extreme right politics believe the government should decide these most difficult and private matters.

In an unprecedented action, Congress voted last weekend to insert itself into a family tragedy that had been playing out in Florida state courts. President Bush signed the eleventh-hour bill into law, mandating the controversial and complex Terri Schiavo case be put in federal court. The law subverts the Constitution and decades of legal practice, which place such cases under the states’ purview.

Shame on these hypocrites! They have caused more than 100,000 deaths with their war in Iraq. They advocate the death penalty. And they slash life-sustaining government programs in favor of tax cuts for Wall Street fat cats.

This dangerous move is not about saving a young woman’s life. It’s about pushing an extremist agenda. Right-wing media creation Sean Hannity has moved his show to Florida and “pro-life” publicity pimp Randall Terry has become the parents’ adviser. A memo distributed among Republican lawmakers described the Schiavo case as “a great political issue,” useful for building conservative Christian support for the GOP.

As Texas governor, Bush, ever faithful to the corporate bottom line, signed into law a bill that let hospitals and doctors decide whether life-sustaining procedures are “inappropriate,” regardless of family wishes. Which, coarsely put, meant, “If the patient can’t pay and, Doc, you think it’s futile, then you can legally pull the plug.”

The disability rights movement, often in the forefront in battling the ultra-right, especially on budgetary issues, opposes withholding life-sustaining measures, and has long called for federal review of state-governed guardianship laws. These are valid issues that need to be addressed.

However, the congressional action is not about the rights of the disabled. It’s not even about Terri Schiavo. It’s about the radical flexing its muscle, holding the entire nation hostage to its agenda, which targets so-called “activist judges” to guarantee that extremist ultra-right judges get appointed and to destroy any semblance of checks and balances.

The Schiavo law signals a new low in the ultra-right’s rush to trample science, our legal system, the Constitution and democracy under an onslaught of irrationality and its “my way or the highway” views.

Most Americans aren’t buying it. Polls show a great majority believes Bush and Congress should butt out. But we can’t be the silent majority. Call or write your Congress members. If they voted for this law, tell them they overstepped their bounds and are bringing the nation down a slippery, dangerous slope. If they had the guts to oppose it, let them know you support them.