Pro-life people across the country have been wondering about comments pro-life presidential hopeful Ben Carson made concerning the legislation Congress passed to help Terri Schiavo’s family try to save her life.
As LifeNews reported, Carson thinks the federal and state governments overreached when they attempted to protect Terri Schiavo from a painful 14-day starvation and dehydration death. Despite the best efforts of pro-life lawmakers in Congress and the Florida state legislature, where lawmakers approved pro-life laws to allow Terri’s family to take their case to federal courts and to allow then-Governor Jeb Bush to try to protect her, Terri’s estranged husband won a court order to euthanize her against her will.
In comments over the weekend, Carson said: “We face those kinds of issues all the time and while I don’t believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out. Your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up.”
About the bills Congress and the Florida legislature passed to allow Terri’s family to take their lawsuit to protect her to federal court and to give Bush more authority to protect Terri, Carson added: “I don’t think it needed to get to that level. I think it was much ado about nothing.”
Now, in an email to LifeNews.com, Carson has explained what he meant by the comments.
“I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia. I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children. I regret that my recent comments about Terri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted. When I used the term ‘much ado about nothing,’ my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient,” Carson said.
Carson’s email to LifeNews continued: “As I have said previously, it is very difficult to judge people who decide that they want to end their lives when they are afflicted with a terminal disease that is going to lead to a miserable death. There is usually a consensus between the family and the healthcare providers that treatment will be withheld—and the patient would be allowed to die naturally–when he or she develops an infection or other process that would end their life. The job of the healthcare provider would be to keep them comfortable in the meantime, and I support all measures of comfort.”
“When the patient is not terminal, as Terri Schiavo was not, the treatment plan should be determined on the basis of the consensus between the family and the healthcare providers. Terri’s case should have never been turned into the media circus that we witnessed,” he added.
Carson concluded: “I respect the emotions of the Schiavo family and know that this is a painful and difficult issue for many who defend the sanctity of life. For me, defending life is not just a political polemic, it is who I am. I opposed euthanasia long before I was in the public eye, and I continue to do so today.”
Carson’s response is curious because his comment that the legislation to save Terri’s Schiavo’s life was “much ado about nothing” came in direct response to a Tampa Bay newspaper reporter who asked him specifically about his take on the legislation. The question was not related to media bias or a false characterization the media made about the pro-life movement standing up for Terri’s right to life. There’s nothing in Carson’s original statement to make it appear he was referring to the media erroneously making a big deal about the campaign to save Terri’s life.
LifeNews.com contacted Terri’s brother Bobby Schindler for his take on Carson’s explanation.
“I know all too well how mainstream media can distort and misrepresent good faith remarks. Still, Dr. Carson’s explanation leaves the impression that he remains confused about key aspects of Terri’s situation,” Schindler said.
“Indeed, the idea that family and physician consensus alone should decide the fate of those like my sister is problematic. At the root of the issue is that starving and dehydrating someone to death is always wrong, whatever the beliefs of physicians or family members,” Schindler continued. “Every brain injured person needs unconditional love, understanding, and rehabilitation, which is what we fight for every day at the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.”
Schindler said he would appreciate the opportunity to discuss his sister’s life and death with Carson.
Pro-life voters will need to decide for themselves whether they believe Dr. Carson is truly sufficiently pro-life to warrant their primary election vote.