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 Post subject: In Texas, Critics Question Bush's "Life" Culture
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 4:34 pm 
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In Texas, critics question Bush's 'life' culture
Wednesday, March 23 @ 09:46:06 EST
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By Jeff Franks, Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - President Bush's intervention for Terry Schiavo has opened old wounds in Texas where death penalty opponents say his words of support for a "culture of life" ring hollow after so many executions during his time as governor of the state.

Bush said he stepped into the Schiavo case because the United States should have "a presumption in favor of life," but there were 152 executions in Texas during his administration, including some in which the convict's guilt was in doubt, critics said.



"It's hypocrisy at a thousand levels," said University of Houston law professor and death penalty defense attorney David Dow.

"I saw many, many cases where there was substantial doubt about whether someone was guilty or whether the death penalty was the appropriate sentence, but he never said anything," said David Atwood, head of the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. "I really can't say he cares about life."


"We all recognize there is a difference between an innocent person and someone who has committed a heinous crime, but to say one life is important and one isn't, that's politics," Atwood said.

Bush has defended the high number of executions by saying he was confident everyone put to death in Texas was guilty because they had had a fair hearing in the courts he believed capital punishment was a deterrent to crime.

He interrupted a Texas vacation and flew to Washington to sign an emergency law passed by Congress Monday that forced a review of the Schiavo case in federal court.

Schiavo, 41, has been in a vegetative state since a heart attack in 1990. Last week, a Florida court, at her husband's request, ordered the removal of the feeding tube keeping her alive, but her parents argued it should stay in place.

"In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws and our courts should have a presumption in favor of life," said Bush, who has spoken often of creating a "culture of life" by limiting such things as abortion and stem cell research.

Death penalty opponents said Bush did not give the same presumption to death row inmates in Texas, where he used his power to grant an execution stay only once while governor from 1995 to 2000.

In 2000, the state set a U.S. record with 40 executions, including that of Gary Graham, whose guilt was hotly contested and became an international controversy.

"In the face of pretty substantial evidence that Gary Graham was not a murderer, George Bush didn't say anything about a 'culture of life,"' Dow said.

Legal experts say Bush has not been totally consistent on the "right-to-die" issue because in 1999 he signed a Texas law similar to the Florida law under which a judge ordered the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube.

The Texas law allows for life support to be stopped under certain circumstances at the request of a family member or other appropriate surrogate.

"If this case had been in Texas the same thing would have happened as happened in Florida," said John Robertson, professor at the University of Texas law school and author of a book on bioethics called "The Rights of the Critically Ill."

But, he said, Bush's support of the emergency bill for Schiavo was not "a direct contradiction" of the Texas law.

"He's saying he thought it was good enough from the state's perspective at the time, and now he's saying there may be cases that might need a second look," he said.

Diane Clemens, head of the Houston-based Justice for All victims' rights group, said death penalty opponents were not making legitimate comparisons.

"This woman is an innocent, brain-damaged individual who has harmed no one. Killers are convicted murderers who have harmed many people. They have had a fair process," she said.

"They have had the very process these people would try and deny Schiavo -- and that is a request for life at the federal level, in the federal courts."

Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president's decision was based on principle, not politics.

"It (Schiavo case) is a complex case, where serious questions and significant doubts have been raised," he said. "And the president is always going to stand on the side of defending life."


Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited.

From Reuters:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/
20050322/pl_nm/rights_schiavo_texas_dc_1

Catherine

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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 Post subject: HYPOCRISY
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2005 6:41 pm 
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Law Bush signed as Texas governor prompts cries of hypocrisy
Mon Mar 21, 7:22 PM ET

By William Douglas, Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The federal law that President Bush signed early Monday in an effort to prolong Terri Schiavo's life appears to contradict a right-to-die law that he signed as Texas governor, prompting cries of hypocrisy from congressional Democrats and some bioethicists.

In 1999, then-Gov. Bush signed the Advance Directives Act, which lets a patient's surrogate make life-ending decisions on his or her behalf. The measure also allows Texas hospitals to disconnect patients from life-sustaining systems if a physician, in consultation with a hospital bioethics committee, concludes that the patient's condition is hopeless.


Bioethicists familiar with the Texas law said Monday that if the Schiavo case had occurred in Texas, her husband would be the legal decision-maker and, because he and her doctors agreed that she had no hope of recovery, her feeding tube would be disconnected.


"The Texas law signed in 1999 allowed next of kin to decide what the patient wanted, if competent," said John Robertson, a University of Texas bioethicist.


While Congress and the White House were considering legislation recently in the Schiavo case, Bush's Texas law faced its first high-profile test. With the permission of a judge, a Houston hospital disconnected a critically ill infant from his breathing tube last week against his mother's wishes after doctors determined that continuing life support would be futile.


"The mother down in Texas must be reading the Schiavo case and scratching her head," said Dr. Howard Brody, the director of Michigan State University's Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences. "This does appear to be a contradiction."


Brody said that, in taking up the Schiavo case, Bush and Congress had shattered a body of bioethics law and practice.


"This is crazy. It's political grandstanding," he said.


Bush's apparent shift on right-to-die decisions wasn't lost on Democrats. During heated debate on the Schiavo case, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., accused Bush of hypocrisy.


"It appears that President Bush felt, as governor, that there was a point which, when doctors felt there was no further hope for the patient, that it is appropriate for an end-of-life decision to be made, even over the objection of family members," Wasserman Schultz said. "There is an obvious conflict here between the president's feelings on this matter now as compared to when he was governor of Texas."


White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan termed Wasserman Schultz's remarks "uninformed accusations" and denied that there was any conflict in Bush's positions on the two laws.


"The legislation he signed (early Monday) is consistent with his views," McClellan said. "The (1999) legislation he signed into law actually provided new protections for patients ... prior to the passage of the '99 legislation that he signed, there were no protections."


Wasserman Schultz stuck by her remarks when told of McClellan's comments.


"It's a fact in black and white," she said. "It's a direct conflict on the position he has in the Schiavo case."

Tom Mayo, a Southern Methodist University Law School associate professor who helped draft the Texas law, said he saw no inconsistency in Bush's stands.


"It's not really a conflict, because the (Texas) law addresses different types of disputes, meaning the dispute between decision-maker and physician," he said. "The Schiavo case is a disagreement among family members."


Bush himself framed the Schiavo decision this way Monday.


"This is a complex case with serious issues, but in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life," the president said during a Social Security (news - web sites) event in Tucson, Ariz. He didn't mention the 1999 Texas law.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=s ... an_bush_wa


This is definitely a flip-flop-flip-flop made only for political gain. Selfishness once again demonstrated by the Regressive Republican president.

Catherine

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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