Grover Norquist, quoted in the Post: "Advocates of using federal power to keep this woman alive need to seriously study the polling data that's come out on this. I think that a lot of conservative leaders assumed there was broader support for saying that they wanted to have the federal government save this woman's life."
If this is really about 'sav[ing] this woman's life' why look at the polling data?
I hesitate to dive much more into this than I have in a few brief posts because this is such a murky and dark and difficult to reason through situation. There's no black and white to it. Clearly, you've got a family that truly believes they're watching their daughter being allowed to die for lack of nourishment. Whatever the antics of their supporters or the larger political purposes this is being put to, they believe it. And I can only imagine the sense of impotence and despair they must be experiencing.
From the relatively little I know of this case, there has been a truly unconscionable years-long campaign of slander and defamation against the husband -- accusing him of everything under the sun including attempted murder. But immediate families in such cases must always be judged by very different standards than the ones we rightly apply to the political sharks and outrage-addicts who swarm around these people to feed off their tragedy.
What's more, as Kevin Drum mentioned on his site earier, I could see where a state might make a law that absent clear and specific evidence (like a living will) of a patient's pre-illness wishes, you assume they would want to be kept alive. I'm not saying that's the right or the wrong approach. I'm only making the point that I don't see anything sacrosanct about the particular legal regime about end-of-life care that currently prevails in Florida.
(For what it's worth, some of the most sensible and humane points I've read on this whole case have been on Andrew Sullivan's site.)
The only clarity I've been able to see in this case or find in it is that there is a set of laws governing these issues in Florida and those laws appear to have been followed. Not only followed, but now submitted to numerous appeals. As for the medical questions involved -- specifically, Shiavo's level of awareness or consciousness -- from what I can tell, every independent doctor who has examined her has put her in the PVS category. Those who don't turn out to be either quacks or doctors who didn't do a complete examination.
That doesn't mean those legal or medical judgments are correct. But I know that those judgments have been arrived at by people with vastly more expertise and information at their disposal than I have.
Obviously, I lack any medical understanding to judge these issues myself and I don't know that much about the legal history of the case. But the one thing I'm quite clear on is that I won't get any more clarity on either point from the comic book coverage coming out of CNN and the rest of the cable networks. And the folks who've poured gasoline on this fire for cheap political reasons are truly beneath contempt.