Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Americans lost in the shadows Hentoff again!

Nat Hentoff has had excellent articles about Terri Schiavo, and what the real issue is all about. Though media and others want us to believe it is just simply right to die issues, it is, in reality, as I have been saying for four years plus, about the disabled. Terri Schiavo was not dying nor brain dead, she was brain damaged, and therefore, cognitively/physically disabled, and she had rights that were violated, severely, in the death sentence issued and carried out in spite of her innocence. He says it very well here:

Jewish World Review

May 2, 2005

Nat Hentoff

Americans lost in the shadows

During Terri Schiavo's embattled final months, most of the media ignored that her most personally concerned supporters were members of many disability rights organizations. Among them was the largest of those groups, the American Association of People with Disabilities. Its president and CEO, Andrew J. Imparato, points out there are more than 56 million American children and adults with disabilities; and, I would add, many of us who are not currently disabled but may eventually join their number.

This past March, Imparato, speaking to CNN regarding Schiavo's plight, said that he feared that "when we start devaluing the lives of peoples with disabilities, we don't know where that's going to stop."

Tellingly, he added: "You also need to take into account the financial implications of all of this. We have an economy that is not doing as well as it once was and a lot of people are looking at how can we save money. One way to save money is make it easier for people with disabilities to die."

Since the final removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, disability rights organizations have become increasingly involved with getting Congress to pass federal legislation that can begin protecting the voiceless -- as Terri was -- against guardians who have conflicts of interest. Their claims to know the wishes of persons who can't speak for themselves are often disputed by other members of the disabled's family.

While Terri Schiavo was still alive, moreover, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), working hard to get congressional intervention in Schiavo's case, said: "There are a lot of people in the shadows, all over this country, who are incapacitated because of a disability, and many times there is no one to speak for them, and it is hard to determine what their wishes really are or were."

For years, I have relied on information and analysis on a deeply informed spokeswoman for disability rights, Mary Johnson, whose valuable Web site is As she says:

"The issue is much bigger than Schiavo, and it is not about the 'right to life' --- it is about equal protection of the law. Constitutional protection."

The 14th Amendment guarantees every one of us that no state shall deprive "any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law." And the tragedy of Schiavo was that --- in all of the courts, up to and including the Supreme Court, she was indeed bereft of due process because those courts relied entirely on the rigid misunderstanding of the facts by one circuit state court judge in Florida.

That's why Congress must provide carefully designed federal legislation for Americans "in the shadows." As Harkin says: "Where someone is incapacitated and their life support can be taken away, it seems to me that it is appropriate --- where there is a dispute, as there is in this case --- that a federal court come in (outside of a state court's jurisdiction), like we do in habeas corpus situations, and review it and make another determination."

Those of us who are not incapacitated, but may only be "temporarily able," should also beware --- Harkin warns --- of guardians who feel "that their ward is as good as dead, better off dead, or that the guardian himself or herself would be better off without the ward."

Also in need of protection by federal law are the disabled in hospitals in those states where doctors and bioethics committees can and do decide to refuse intensive care to patients they consider "futile" to further treat. These abandoned human beings may include people diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state (a diagnosis that is not error-free) or in a minimally conscious state.

Two years ago, during my coverage of the Terri Schiavo case, I quoted her father, Bob Schindler, who turned out to be prophetic as to his daughter's ultimate fate: "We pay great lip service in this country to disability rights, but as the degree of a person's disability increases, the level of protection that person receives decreases."

Another valuable researcher and writer on disability rights whom I consult regularly, Wesley Smith, special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, warns:

"Unless people object strongly and legislatures take active steps to intervene, this new and deadly game of 'Doctor Knows Best' will be coming soon to a hospital near you."

Terri Schiavo's prolonged, unjust death shows that state legislatures cannot be relied on to protect the disabled, particularly the voiceless. In Congress, there are members on both sides of the aisle who recognize the urgent need for legislation to separate the lawful right to die of cognitive people who wish to refuse treatment from a "duty to die" imposed on those who cannot defend themselves from the steadily advancing culture of death.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Happy Birthmother's Day, Karen and Liz, and all...

Many years ago, we wanted a family. For reasons only God Himself knows, it was not happening.

I was praying, though not always faithfully attending Mass at the time. I 'happened' to go one day in Sept, 1974, and the bulletin carried an announcement instructing those interested in adoption to begin immediately to send letters to an address in the Green Bay office. We had been waiting to find out when the moratorium would be removed, and I 'JUST HAPPENED' to be in Church that day.... oh, how silly we mortals can be. There is no such thing as coincidence in God's plans, but I had much to learn about that.

I took that bulletin home, showed it to dh and wrote the letter as required. Of over 500 letters, ours was the 55th picked of only 125 to be interviewed. We were put on the list, and again, they drew that order randomly after weeding that 125 down to about 100. We began our group study in July, 1975. By Nov, we found out (last of our group) that we were going to be parents within a year to a year and a half.

Things changed rapidly! On Dec 3, 1975, we found out we were first on the list for a beautiful baby girl, and could MAYBE bring her home on the 22nd of Dec, but things changed again, and we could not until Dec 29, 1975. Our beautiful baby girl... came home to us that day.

On May 19, 1978, we brought home our second beautiful daughter.

Gifts from God, and miracles, because BOTH mothers had the 'right' to legal abortion and both had chosen LIFE.

Ask either of my daughters what they think about that possibility... and which they preferred had happened.... They are VERY glad their mother's chose life. As are all adoptees!!!!!

I learned through many adoption groups that there is a special day to recognize these mothers who chose LIFE for their children. The day before Mother's Day is Birthmother's Day, this year to be celebrated on Sat, May 7, 2005.

I always wanted to tell them "Thank You SO much, Karen and Liz!!"
I have had the opportunity to do so with Karen, thank God, directly, and Liz, by letter.

To Karen, and to Liz, (who made this very hard decision twice!!!!).... Happy Birthmother's Day, and may God bless you each in a very special way, everyday.

To all birthmothers, everywhere... thank you for choosing life!

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other..
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make Your one...
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up ... that's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears,
the age old question unanswered throughout the years...
Heredity or environment .. Which are you the product of..
Neither, my darling .. neither..
just two different kinds of love.

~ Author Unknown

Numbers 6:24-26
The LORD bless you
and keep you;

the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

Monday, May 02, 2005

Divorce hurts children says D Mead

I would change only one thing in this article, and that is by taking out the 'sometimes' in the title... Many studies have been done that show this to be true, regardless of how many 'well-meaning' others try to tell us differently.

Sometimes divorce hurts children long after the fact

Inside Bay Area

'I just wish you and Mom could get back together."

My son, Matt, was crying as he poured out his heart to me. We were at the drive-thru window at Jack-in-the-Box, and we were both in tears.

"Give me a No.3 with a Coke and a No.4 with a Sprite," I said, sobbing into the speaker.

"OK, I got a No.3 with a Coke and a No.4 with a Sprite," the ever-chipper JITB employee said. "And, are you OK, mister?"

"Yes, just give me my food, please."

This conversation was not a few weeks or even a few years after my divorce. It was eight years after the fact, and my ex-wife had remarried and had a child since then.

"Son, would you want your little brother to go through what you went through, just so Mom and Dad could get back together?"

He didn't.

It was one of the most difficult conversations I ever had with my son, then 15. We had divorced when he was 7. The pain was still there.

What triggered it was a mini-divorce, in his eyes, the break-up of my engagement a few months earlier to a woman who loved my son and whom my son loved. He was missing her, and it triggered the teary confrontation.

I just tried to listen to my son without being critical. He was hurting. I didn't chastise him and tell him he was nuts for thinking that. I didn't tell him that the thought of his mom and me getting back together sent shivers down my spine.

It's wholly natural for him to miss his parents being together. The best scenario for kids is to grow up with a loving mom and dad who are married and love each other. Those kinds of families traditionally produce the most well-balanced kids in society. Sure, kids from divorce can grow up to become productive members of society, and undoubtedly some kids from intact families end up in jail.

But by and large, kids from divorce struggle with some aspects of their parents' not being together for the rest of their lives, and it spills into other areas of life. I don't think my son, now 17, thinks about it very often anymore, but I think at times he wonders what it would have been like to have a mom and dad around for the big moments of his life.

I have a friend who does seminars for children of divorce. At the end of the daylong seminar, when the parents return to pick up their kids, he picks out about 10 kids, at random and covering all ages, to tell one dream they had. Most kids give a similar answer: "I wish Mom and Dad could get back together."

My dream is that when my son gets married, he puts his best foot forward in being a husband and a dad and that he loves his wife with all his heart and puts her first.

So how do we get our kids from Point A, their parents' divorce, to Point C, marriage and subsequent parenthood? I think they have to see someone reach those goals to believe in it. It's on his mind, no doubt. Maybe that's why he spends so much time at his friend Mike's house; because both his parents are around and they just get along.

Since that day some three years ago, Matt and I have not had a follow-up discussion on the subject. Maybe it's too painful for him. Maybe at that time, he just needed to unload on me. It was huge of him to bring it up, because he doesn't talk about the divorce very often. He chooses to cover it up, wipe it from his memory, so to speak.

He was hurting, and he chose to talk about it at that moment. The ensuing discussion opened up his eyes to some of the truths of the divorce. I told him I was sorry we got divorced and asked him to forgive me.

And I think he has since then, but until that moment, he blamed me for a lot of things I had no control over. It was a hurt that still hurts him. He just wanted me to know that.

Doug Mead has been a single parent for 11 years. He and his teenage son live in the East Bay together. He can be e-mailed at