February 27, 2005
Should Michael Schiavo be Terri's Guardian?Topics: Legal affairs
Generally when someone is incapacitated and in need of a guardian to make decisions for them, a spouse is a natural choice. Very early on in Terri Schiavo's case her husband, Michael was appointed her guardian.
Yet as the years have gone on, Michael Schiavo's attachment to Terri has changed. He is still legally her husband, yet he lives with another woman with whom he has had children. If he was single, she would be called a common law wife. As it is, he apparently calls her his fiance.
Now, I realize that fiance is a euphemism these days. It is used to distinguish between a girlfriend whom one dates and a girlfriend with whom one lives. It has a far more respectable sound than, "the woman I shack up with." It speaks of honorable intentions, to someday in the vague future make the union legal and upright.
Yet in this case, the relationship between Michael Schiavo and his fiance ought to be sufficient cause to reconsider his guardianship relationship with Terri Schiavo. That emotional tie and self-sacrificing love and the faithfulness to vows that make a spouse the natural choice as a guardian of an incapacitated person's best interests seem to be absent here. He now has intentions to marry another woman, even if they are vague intentions about a vague future. Certainly that future marriage has to be after Terri's death if he is unwilling to divorce her.
Even if one assumes the best of Michael Schiavo and assumes that he feels Terri's death would be in her best interest because her life as it is must be intolerable, even if he is frustrated by the years of legal wrangling out of cencern for her, and not his own needs, one cannot explain his behavior toward her. Why, if she must be kept alive while legal issues are settled, doesn't he let the nurses clean her teeth? Why does he order her window shades down at all times, banish cards, flowers and family pictures from her room, and not allow her to be taken from her room at all? Why doesn't he allow her testing and therapy that may increase her functioning and even help her to swallow and speak? Is he really concerned for her suffering? One would think that if he truly wanted to reduce her suffering, he would not add to it in these ways.
My point is this: The emotional ties and vows of duty that are normally present between a husband and a wife, and make a spouse a good candidate for a guardian, seem to be absent in this case. Michael Schiavo appears to have moved on with his life in many ways, and the continued battles over Terri's case--her continued exisitence--are preventing him from having a normal life with his current lover.
Yet there are other people who are natural candidates for guardians. That is, people who have a blood relationship to the incapacitated person, people who have a life-long loving relationship. Terri has people like this in her life. She has parents who have a tender love for her and are devoted to her care. She has a brother who has made great personal sacrifices of his time and energy to advocate for his sister.
Isn't it time now to reconsider the guardianship of Terri Schivo and let those care for her who are most likely to sacrifice their own best interests for hers?
(Cross-posted at Wittenberg Gate.)
Posted by dory at February 27, 2005 8:38 AM
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