Tuesday, March 29, 2005

DeLay, a "Compassionate Conservative" With Schiavo Tragedy, Didn't "Choose Life" With Own Father

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), front and center in Congress' efforts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo tragedy, acted much differently when a similar situation occurred in his own family more than 16 years ago.

In 1988, DeLay's father, 65-year-old Charles Ray DeLay, was badly injured in a freak accident at his home. That accident left the elder DeLay in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment at Brooke Army Medical Center. Soon, doctors told the DeLay family that Charles Ray DeLay would "basically be a vegetable."

When his father's kidneys failed, the DeLay family decided against connecting him to a dialysis machine. "Extraordinary measures to prolong life were not initiated," said his medical report, citing "agreement with the family's wishes." His bedside chart carried the instruction: "Do not resuscitate."On Dec. 14, 1988, the DeLay patriarch "expired with his family in attendance."

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What did Tom DeLay learn that day?

DeLay's spokesman was quoted in the March 27 Los Angeles Times saying that the situation facing Charles Ray DeLay and that facing Terri Schiavo are "entirely different."

But consider:

-- Both patients were severely brain-damaged.
-- Both patients were incapable of surviving without medical assistance.
-- Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means.
-- Neither had a living will.

In 1988, the DeLay family chose not to keep Charles Ray DeLay alive artificially. No courts were asked to intervene. No fiery rhetoric from Congress. No activists stood outside Brooke Army Medical Center. Just a family decision -- one that is seemingly made dozens of times each day across the nation.

I wonder whether Tom DeLay recalled that day in 1988 when he accused Schiavo's husband and the courts of “an act of barbarism” against Schiavo, who doctors say is in a persistent vegetative state. Did DeLay recall 1988 when he championed political intervention in the Schiavo case, 15 years after Terri Schiavo suffered massive brain trauma, and years after seven different neurologists separately concluded that Schiavo had no hope of recovery from her vegetative state. I wonder if DeLay, among the most vocal "right to life" advocates in Congress, ever considered how he would have reacted if anyone outside his family had sought to intervene back in 1988.

DeLay isn't commenting on his own family tragedy. Seems he's too busy commenting instead on the Schiavo tragedy.

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