Last night I was up until the early hours of the morning watching the live feed of the House of Representatives debate on C-Span's website of the bill to save Terri Schiavo. As I was watching the debate, I was struck by how bizzare it seemed that this debate even had to take place.While it remains to be seen whether the federal courts will be willing to step in and save Terri Schiavo's life, I believe that Congress did the right thing last night by passing this bill. They have at least protected Terri's rights in this case.
The Republicans clearly had an edge in the debate with sevearl physicians ready to make statements on Terri's behalf. House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) did an excellent job of preparing rebuttals to Democratic arguments against the bill.
Among the many ironies of the evening was the Democrats repeated argument that passage of this bill would be a violation of the principles of federalism. As I recall, Democrats have never been proponents of federalism. After all, Roe vs. Wade was a blatant violation of federalism by circumventing the will of the states at the time and creating the right to an abortion which, of course, did not exist in the Constitution.
Democrats are willing to embrace states rights but only when it suits their agenda. Consider for a moment the issue of gay marriage. Democrats will argue that it is a states rights issue because they know they cannot get federal legislation passed recognizing gay marriage.
Another really strange argument (coming from Democrats) is that Congress was wrong to step into what they felt was a "private, family matter". Yet it is Democrats who have repeatedly supported government involvement in private decisions. Given their current opposition to the President's plan to offer partial privatization of Social Security accounts this argument about goverment interfering in a private matter seems ludicrous.
One of the questions yet to be answered is what the long-term fallout will be from this debate. Democrats who stood up last night to oppose this bill have shown the world once and for all that they are the party of death and not life. It will be interesting to see whether any of the representatives voting against this bill will suffer any political consquences in 2006.