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FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2005
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EDITORIAL

DeLay, Frist owe judges, American people apology

The Republican leadership in Congress owes the American people an apology. Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, the results of an autopsy released this week showed.

Also, a medical examiner concluded that her 15-year coma was not due to foul play.

Sen. Bill Frist and House Majority Leader Tom Delay need to publicly admit they were wrong when they reconvened their respective legislative bodies in the middle of a recess to push through an 11th-hour bill. The courts later ruled the bill at odds with the U.S. Constitution.

Appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly ruled for Michael Schiavo, saying he had exhausted all medical possibilities before seeking to have his wife's feeding tube removed and end her prolonged and expensive ordeal — as he said was her expressed wish.

Mr. DeLay denounced the judges and unscrupulously used the tragedy to gain political favor with his constituency, even as the courts — and overwhelming public opinion — continued to favor a man who obviously knew his wife's wishes better than the socially conservative lawmaker did.

Mr. Frist, a physician, made a rash and ultimately erroneous medical judgment based on a years-old videotape of Ms. Schiavo.

The medical examiner found Ms. Schiavo was indeed in a persistent vegetative state, having suffered massive and irreversible brain damage beyond help from any kind of therapy or treatment. Her brain weighed less than half the expected weight of a normal one. She was blind, the autopsy shows, indisputably refuting the meddlers' argument that she looked at and reacted to the people and activities around her.

Mr. DeLay and Mr. Frist were wrong to meddle in private affairs of the most sacred of relationships, that between a man and his wife. They were wrong to demean the judges who turned out to be correct. They were wrong to try to make political hay from a private tragedy.

They must apologize with sincerity and respect in proportion to the righteous indignation they erroneously displayed when they first interfered.

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