Jeb Bush Battles ‘NY Times’ Over Schiavo Case

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By: E&P Staff

A pitched battle has broken out between Gov. Jeb Bush and The New York Times–on the newspaper’s editorial page.

Two days ago, the Times criticized the governor in an editorial called “Autopsy on the Schiavo Tragedy.” While not naming Bush, it denounced “opportunistic politicians” who exploited the case. Today, the Times published a hard-hitting, critical letter from Jeb Bush–and another editorial attacking him.

Bush, in his letter, said that the Times’ “grotesque and chilling disrespect for the sanctity of life has never been more apparent than in your June 16 editorial…Terri Schiavo was a deeply loved daughter, wife, sister and friend. The fact that her brain was atrophied or that she was blind or could not have been rehabilitated doesn’t change that fact.

“While many medical professionals said she was in a persistent vegetative state, still other highly respected neurologists said there was a chance that she was not.

“In cases where patients do not have an expressed written directive regarding end-of-life decisions and where the patient’s guardian has a conflict of interest, it only makes sense to err on the side of life….Despite claims of cynicism and being ‘agenda-driven,’ we will continue to strive to protect our most vulnerable citizens. All innocent human life is precious, and government has a duty to protect the weak, the disabled and the vulnerable.”

While not directly responding to the letter, the Times published another editorial, which opened with:

“After Terri Schiavo was finally allowed to rest in peace on March 31, we hoped she would also have been granted in death what she surely would have wanted – an end to the bitterness that divided her family and made her private suffering a public spectacle….

“And so it was heartbreaking yesterday to see Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida thrust himself back into this tragedy just two days after the results of Ms. Schiavo’s autopsy showed that her condition had been beyond hope and beyond therapy, that she most likely had been in a persistent vegetative state and that her relatives’ allegations that she had been abused by her husband were false.

“For most of the nation, that news provided closure on a wrenching episode. But not for Mr. Bush, who asked a state prosecutor to investigate Michael Schiavo, Ms. Schiavo’s husband. Mr. Bush said he wanted to clear up discrepancies in Mr. Schiavo’s statements over the last 15 years about the time that elapsed between his finding his wife on the floor and his 911 call…

“Of all the politicians who tragically failed to understand and respect the sanctity and privacy of family life in this case, only Mr. Bush seems determined to save face by disturbing the family’s peace further and berating those who had been saying all along that he was going down a terrible road.”

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