April 25, 2005
From Blogs for Terri to Blogs for LifeTopics: News
by Earl E.Appleby, Jr.
Earl E. Appleby writes on how an Internet alliance forged in the unsuccessful fight to save the life of Terri Schindler Schiavo is saving others today.
A global search of the Internet with the words "Schiavo" and "Internet" yields such telling mainstream media headlines as: "Terri Schiavo Case Provokes Blogging Storm" and "Blogosphere Erupting With Schiavo Chatter."
"In cyberspace, where anybody who cares to listen can hear you scream, the question of whether Terri Schiavo should live or die has spawned an endless shouting match," Matt Crenson began his Associated Press report on March 23, 2005. "Blogs themselves are nothing new the contemporary equivalent of letters to the editor or debates around the office water cooler. But cases like Schiavo's evoke the broadest range of public commentary on the Internet."
As Chris Gaither and Susannah Rosenblatt reported in the Contra Costa Times:
ProLifeBlogs.com created a site that steers people to more than 300 blogs that support its stance in favor of reinserting Schiavo's feeding tube. Hundreds of bloggers have linked to BlogsforTerri.com, a site with news updates on the case and reader commentary....
Those figures doubtlessly increased exponentially when repeated attempts by Schiavo's husband, Michael, and his judicial allies to impose death on the 41-year-old Florida woman succeeded on March 31, 2005.
Terri Schiavo has died but what of the Internet alliance forged on her behalf?
Terri's legacy lives on in the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, which has "vowed to focus (its efforts) on assisting other desperate families in their efforts to protect vulnerable loved ones" and in the emerging alliance between bloggers determined to defend "the next Terri" and disability rights and patient advocacy organizations long dedicated to precisely that end. And that alliance is saving lives.
When 85-year old Mae Magouirk of La Grange, Georgia, was being deprived of adequate nutrition and hydration in the hospice to which she had been relegated to die by her granddaughter Beth Gaddy, with crucial assistance from probate judge Donald Boyd, bloggers mobilized into action as calls flooded the phones of Gaddy, Boyd, and the La Grange hospice, among others. Within days, Ken Mullinax, who had led the fight to save his Aunt Mae's life, was reporting:
Thanks to the support of all friends of Terri, my aunt Mae Magouirk has been air-lifted to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center...and [is] receiving IV fluids, nourishment and some of the finest medical care available in the United States! Praise be the name of the Lord God...
Thousands of miles from LaGrange, GA, in southeast Chicago, Clara Martinez, was being starved in her own home by her husband, Salvador Martinez. When a local Latino newspaper, La Raza, broke the story, thanks to the courage of Pastor Guillermo Espinoza, the 39-year-old mother of two children, ages 5 and 7, had already gone without food for nearly 30 days. (She was drinking water orally.) Collaborating with work behind the scenes by Citizens United Resisting Euthanasia (CURE), Blogs for Terri again launched a full-scale blogburst in defense of Clara Martinez's life, and when Pastor Espinoza, members of his church, and activists from CURE and Blogs for Terri, joined in a prayer rally outside Martinez's home, they were advised that feeding had been resumed.
Of course, these are limited victories, and Mae Magouirk and Clara Martinez, as the readers of this report, remain in danger of involuntary death imposed through euthanasia. But thanks to the legacy of Terri, the courage of her family, and the determination of defenders of life--on and offline--such lives will no longer go undefended save for the few.
Posted by earl at April 25, 2005 3:03 AM
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