The Right Coast

March 27, 2005
Terri Schaivo would not have wanted Catholic funeral, says husband, remembering conversation from some time or other
By Tom Smith

This tells you what you need to know about Michael Schiavo. His siblings' testimony that Terri said she would not want to be kept alive by machines seems doubtful, but who knows. What is utterly implausible is that anyone who was even casually Catholic would not want a Catholic burial. I gather Terri was a fairly serious Catholic. The only plausible explanation for not giving her one is that that is more convenient for Michael, notwithstanding the profound emotional pain it inflicts on her parents. Not giving a Catholic a Catholic funeral is roughly equivalent to chopping off of Roman's head so there is no mouth to put the coin in, or leaving a Greek to decay on the battlefield or gouging out the eyes of an American Indian. You just don't cremate a Catholic woman and give her a non-Catholic burial, unless she has entirely rejected the faith of her birth, or unless you don't give a damn about what she would have wanted. Michael probably knows that. And doing that reflects on everything else he has done.

What an unbelievably selfish thing. Are we supposed to believe he needs to have Terri's ashes in his family plot, given the circumstances of her death? Is he going to have time to visit her grave given his current duties to his living wife and children? It would seem the just thing to do would be to console himself with his living family and let Terri's parents have their dead daughter. He can already get another wife. Oh that's right. He has. But maybe the guy is the heartless villian some say he is. To deprive Terri's parents of even a grave to visit would be the act of depraved man, acting out of a diseased hatred for his in-laws. It puts the lie to all the talk about how he was only trying to do what Terri wanted. It is all but impossible to believe Terri would not have wanted a Catholic funeral, so whose wishes are we worried about now? Maybe the right-to-die people would like to defend not caring about her wishes concerning a funeral, not the law of it, but the justice of it. It may be Michael wanted his wife to die, but does he really need to keep her corpse as well? Maybe we should start a fund drive so we could buy it from him. And maybe there should be an autopsy. Insisting on a cremation under the circumstances is more than a little bizarre.

Or maybe the ACLU has an opinion on this. I can hardly wait. They could deploy both their expertises as right to die slowly advocates and criminal defendant's lobby. There must be some kind of right not to have your dead wife autopsied just because how she got brain damaged is a little vague. Call it, the right to have one's wife cremated quickly, especially if her parents think you strangled her. I mean, what good is the right to cremate if you can't use it when you need it? And there's probably some sense in which it is just another sign of the coming fascist theocracy not to just dump her in hole somewhere. It's probably some kind of right to dispose of your wife's body as you want to. Perhaps one of those feminist issues.

Just one final opinion. The Democrats probably feel pretty smug about this, and we'll no doubt hear some nauseating comments about how Terri is finally at peace from those who were so eager to see her so. But this is not going to help them. For every New York Times reader who clucks about Ayatohla Delay, there are about three twice a year church goers who will have been thoroughly creeped out by the Dr. Death Democrats. The patently insincere efforts of Howard Dean et al to ingratiate themselves with religious Americans is not off to a very strong start.