Update [2005-3-23 7:52:55 by gilgamesh]:
I was doing some googling this morning, looking for some interesting essays or discussions with respect to the moral philosophical aspects of the Terri Schiavo case when I just happened to run into this very interesting, to me anyway, morsel from the blog Bioethics.net
I wan't sure if this might be old news around here or not, but I couldn't remember any mention of these facts in previous diaries or comments that I've come across discussing this whole extroadinary travesty of fundmantal rights and consitutionalism.
It turns out, according to the article,
that the fundamentalist virus has even infested the legal and philosophical bioethics community, warping the whole discussion of life and death issues in their favor. How can these bastards be stopped? And when are we going to stop them?
Since I found this diary still on the recommended list this morning, I just wanted to take the opportunity to clarify a few things:
1) I do not believe that the Scindler's
are, in any way, responsible for what I call below
"the extraodinary travesty" that has taken place here. I think they are probably victims just as much as Terri Schiavo (assuming she's conscious in some sense) and her husband. This is absolutely not a Manichean good vs evil diary, as someone suggested.
2)I think this diary and the article which it refers to illustrate very effectively how , but not why, this case became so unnecessarily and tragically politicized by the right and the fundamnentlists in the first place.
3)I'll even the benefit of the doubt to the fundamantalists and assume that they are not really interested in the politicization of this case, but in the welfare of Terri Schaivo and the Schindlers. However, obviously, someone or some group of people are. These people include the Republicans in Congress,the President of the United States and, according to this article, some very wealthy conservative financiers and the foundations they support. They are using this case to promote what they call "a culture of life" but is really an attempt to put control of more and more of our most personal,most imtimate,most private decisions in the hands of an unnacountable and increasingly theocratic government.
My friend Jon Eisenberg who is a lawyer working on the Schiavo case just published this article. It makes very clear why I flagged the growing influence of right wing conservative foundation influence on bioethics in a previous blog. While some suggest that it is the 'left' which is politicizing our field this article makes it crystal clear where the political push is coming from. It also makes it clear what the nature is of the greatest threat to the integrity and credibility of bioethics-- secret non-disclosed funding of journals, professorships, conferences, and legal cases by arch-conservative foundations.
Where are the laments about this source of blatant conflict of interest????
The Terri Schiavo Case: Following the Money
By Jon B. Eisenberg
March 4, 2005
Have you ever wondered who is bankrolling the seemingly endless courtroom effort to keep Terri Schiavo's feeding tube attached?
During the Watergate scandal, investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were famously advised to "follow the money." In the Schiavo case, the money leads to a consortium of conservative foundations, with $2 billion in total assets, that are funding a legal and public relations war of attrition intended to prolong Terri's life indefinitely in order to further their own faith-based cultural agendas.
For the past 12 years, Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, have been locked in a bitter dispute over whether to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration from Terri, whom the courts have determined is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. The Schindlers want the doctors to keep Terri alive; Michael does not. Late last year, in Bush v. Schiavo, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush violated the constitutional separation of powers when he attempted to overturn a court order to remove Terri's feeding tube. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
I filed an amicus curiae brief in the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of 55 bioethicists and a disability rights organization opposing the governor's action. Two months later I participated in a public debate on the case at Florida State University. Among the participants supporting Gov. Bush's position were Pat Anderson, one of multiple attorneys who have represented the Schindlers, and Wesley Smith and Rita Marker, two activists whose specialty is opposing surrogate removal of life-support from comatose and persistent vegetative state patients. I found myself wondering: "I'm doing this pro bono; are they?"
I did some Internet research and learned that many of the attorneys, activists and organizations working to keep Schiavo on life support all these years have been funded by members of the Philanthropy Roundtable.
The Philanthropy Roundtable is a collection of foundations that have funded conservative causes ranging from abolition of Social Security to anti-tax crusades and United Nations conspiracy theories. The Roundtable members' founders include scions of America's wealthiest families, including Richard Mellon Scaife (heir to the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune), Harry Bradley (electronics), Joseph Coors (beer), and the Smith Richardson family (pharmaceutical products).
I found a Web site called mediatransparency.com which tracks funding for these foundations. Using just that Web site and the Schindlers' own site, terrisfight.org, I learned of a network of funding connections between some of the Philanthropy Roundtable's members and various organizations behind the Schindlers, their lawyers and supporters, and the lawyers who represented Gov. Bush in Bush v. Schiavo.
Here are a few examples:
Schindler lawyer Pat Anderson "was paid directly" by the anti-abortion Life Legal Defense Foundation, which "has already spent over $300,000 on this case," according to the foundation's Web site. Much of the support for Life Legal Defense Foundation, in turn, comes from the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay rights group which collected more than $15 million in private donations in 2002 and admits to having spent money on the Schiavo case "in the six figures," according to a recent article in the Palm Beach Post. Mediatransparency.org states that between 1994 and 2002, the Alliance Defense Fund received $142,000 from Philanthropy Roundtable members that include the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation.
Wesley Smith and Rita Marker also work for organizations that get funding from Roundtable members. Smith is a paid senior fellow with the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that advocates the teaching of creationist "intelligent design" theory in public schools. Between 1993 and 1997, the Discovery Institute received $175,000 from the Bradley Foundation. Marker is executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia, which lobbies against physician-assisted suicide. In 2001, Marker's organization received $110,390 from the Randolph Foundation, an affiliate of the Smith Richardson family.
Roundtable members also played a role in financing the Bush v. Schiavo litigation.
The Family Research Council, which uses its annual $10 million budget to lobby for prayer in public schools and against gay marriage, filed an amicus curiae brief in Bush v. Schiavo supporting Gov. Bush, at the same time its former president, attorney Kenneth Connor, was representing the governor in that litigation. Between 1992 and 2000, the council received $215,000 from the Bradley Foundation.
Another amicus brief backing Bush was filed by a coalition of disability rights organizations that included the National Organization on Disability and the World Institute on Disability. The former received $810,000 between 1991 and 2002 from the Scaife Family Foundations, the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and the JM Foundation; the latter received $20,000 in 1997 from the JM Foundation.
These connections may be just the tip of the iceberg. I'm no Woodward or Bernstein. I got this information using only the most rudimentary Google skills. I imagine that a thorough search by a seasoned investigator would yield quite a bit more.
With this kind of big bucks behind them, it's no wonder the Schindlers and their allies have been able to keep the legal fight over their daughter going for so long. And it's still not over. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to intervene, the Schindlers' lawyers are now trying to prolong the litigation yet again through a series of post-judgment motions which, regardless of their merit, could yield stays that would continue to forestall the removal of Terri's feeding tube.
Maneuvers within the past few months have included requests for a new trial based on something the Pope said in a speech criticizing the removal of feeding tubes from persistent vegetative state patients, and on a newly minted claim that Terri was deprived of the right to independent court-appointed counsel. Those maneuvers achieved the desired delay but were ultimately unsuccessful. On Feb. 25, the trial judge, George Greer, ordered Terri's feeding tube to be removed March 18.
On Feb. 28, however, the Schindlers struck back by filing 15 written motions and requesting 48 hours of court hearing time. These motions run an extraordinary gamut, from a suggestion that Judge Greer should order Terri and Michael Schiavo be immediately divorced, to a request for "limited media access" to Terri, to a proposal for a 20-hour evidentiary hearing on Terri's "medical/psychiatric/rehabilitative status." The ploy is obvious: still more delay.
There is something wrong here. The Florida courts have ruled repeatedly -- based on her doctors' testimony and evidence of statements she previously made about her end-of-life wishes -- that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, would not want her life to be prolonged under such circumstances, and should be allowed to die as the courts have determined she would wish. But the conservative foundations, with their massive funding, have turned the Schiavo case into a war of attrition, where delay is victory.
They have met defeat in the U.S. Supreme Court. But they won't give up, and they have the cash it takes to out-gun Michael Schiavo on every front. It is going to take yet more judicial courage to ensure that the rule of law prevails over big money. That will require Judge Greer to reject the latest round of delaying motions, and the Florida Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to back him up.
Of course,this article was published before the recent Congresional and Presidential intervention and before today's ruling. But, if nothting else, it reveals some intriguing details about HOW the right goes about organizing and funding the promotion of its agenda. It seems to be a sort of hierarchical structure: the heavy-duty foundations (with very rich and powerful finaciers), such as the Scaife Foundation,at the top. These foundations then channel their resources through charitabale organiztions which employ wonderful sounding euphemisms like "Philanthropic Convention" to mask their insidious aims. These organiztions,in turn,
finance the right-wing lawyers and pseudo-scientists who testify in particlar cases.
My question is: when is the American left going to learn from these people? Or, at least, realize that the fight is always directed from the bottom but financed from the top, and therefore we should, perhaps, direct our efforts at both elements?