February 26, 2005

Florida Judge Orders Pope Removed from Life Support*

Clearwater, Fla. In a shocking development in the Terri Schiavo case today, a Florida appeals court ordered Vatican doctors to remove all life support from the ailing Pope John Paul II.

In a decision sure to have international repercussions, Judge George Greer ruled that although Terri Schiavo's lawyers had provided substantial evidence that the Pontiff responded to external stimuli by doing such things as "eating, talking, praying, and blessing the faithful," that such behaviors were simple auto-responses that in no way proved any type of self-awareness. Despite plans to attend Sunday prayers tomorrow, the judge proclaimed the Pope to be in a "constant vegetative state".

"We understand and sympathize with the feelings that Catholics, Christians, and humanitarians of all stripes have for the Holy Father," Judge Greer announced from the bench, "but this is a nation of laws. As such we must not let any moral considerations, whatever their source may be, interfere with justice."

The judges order would require doctors at Rome's Gemelli hospital to withhold all medical care from the Pope, including food & water and strapping the Pope down if he reflexively objects that he is hungry and/or thirsty. However, the Court's order will not take affect until March 18th allowing time for the case to be appealed.

"We will appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court," Terri Schiavo lawyer David Gibbs III said in a press conference immediately following the unexpected ruling.

NARAL, the ACLU, and attorney's for Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, have already begun work on amicus curae briefs in support of the judges decision to euthenize the Pope. "The right to die is an essential aspect of human dignity," said George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney and spokesman, "and the right to kill those who no longer have any value and are a drain on the economy is unseperable from this right."

"The legal principle of convenience," he added, "has triumphed today over the arcane remnants of religious bigotry which threaten to shake the very foundations of our secular society had the judge not ruled in our favor."

Reactions from the Vatican were swift. An emergency meeting was called for all available ranking Church officials and thousands gathered for a candle-light vigil in Saint Peter's Square. A spokesperson for the Papal state immediately denounced the ruling as contrary to the teachings of the Church and said the Vatican would join the appeal to judge Greer's ruling.

Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC strongly condemned the ruling. When asked what the Church would do if John Paul were to lose the appeal, McCarrick said, "As Catholics we believe that preserving the sanctity of life is the first duty of governments and of individual followers of Christ."

"What judge Greer has done today is essentially to sanction the murder of the Holy See," he went on, "and we cannot and will not stand for this! We must protect the life of the innocent at all costs--even if that means a non-violent protest or fast of some kind. Maybe even a prayer vigil--a long one. I really hope that works."

Today's ruling came as a shock to many legal experts who claimed that the Pope had no standing in the Schiavo case and the court no authority to make the ruling. Even so, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe announced his support of the decision as the logical extension of the application of internationl law in the US.

"Besides," said Tribe, "the guy is really old."

The Pope is expected to make a statement about the case tomorrow.


By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:13 PM | Comments |