Interview: Dr. James Dobson

Published February 25, 2005

| FoxNews.com

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Feb. 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST:Our top story tonight, Terri Schiavo's life has once again been prolonged, but only until at least tomorrow. While more legal appeals are going on — in the works but does it appear that, well, time may be running out for her?

Joining us now, a man who has been very, very outspoken on the issue and in this case. He's the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family and author of the best selling book, "Strong-Willed Child." Dr. James Dobson is with us.

Dr. Dobson.

JAMES DOBSON, CHAIRMAN, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: Sean, hello.

HANNITY: First of all, I wanted to get your comments on the pope before we get to the Terri Schiavo (search) case. Obviously, he had some very serious health problems today. The third longest serving pope in the Catholic Church history, and he's obviously very frail, not in the best of health. What are your thoughts on him?

DOBSON: Well, he's a good man. I have met him. I'm not Catholic, but I have a great deal of respect for Pope John Paul. I think that he has stood firm on the moral issues, and I admire him greatly. I regret what he's going through at this time.

HANNITY: That's very tough.

All right, let's move on to the Terri Schiavo case. I mean, once again we're at this point. And you remember for a short time the feeding tube was removed not that long ago. We're at this point where tomorrow may be the day that this tube could be taken out of this girl. If that were to happen, if she died, would you consider that murder?

DOBSON: I would consider it murder. And it's such a sad case. If the courts have their way, Terri Schiavo is going to be deprived of food and water. And it is an outrage and a very unjust circumstance.

She is not in a coma. She is not on life support. She is not in a persistent vegetative state. She is being supported by food and water. If they take that away, she is going to suffer a very painful death.

HANNITY: You know, Dr. Dobson, as we look at this, in particular this film we have on the screen about this balloon right here, right now. I watch her eyes. It appears very evident to me that she follows this balloon back and forth.

There's other moments where you clearly see a connection between her and the people in the room there. And I just, for the life of me, I'm having a hard time understanding this — this resistance to giving her the benefit of the doubt.

DOBSON: Sean, this has implications far beyond her sad and tragic case. I mean, there are people all over this country who are being sustained with a feeding tube.

And the notion that they're going to pull that out and she is essentially going to — she's not going to starve to death. She's going to die of dehydration. That causes the tongue to swell. The bodily fluids are lost. And there's great, great suffering.

It is an outrage. It is wrong. And it really concerns me greatly that the courts are about to do this to her.

HANNITY: Dr. Dobson, did you follow the case — just recently there was a woman who had been in a coma for 20 years. And she came out of this coma. She called her mother, recognized her, knew who she was, had a conversation with her.

DOBSON: Yes. No one would have expected that. But she did come out of the — the coma that she was in, and she called her mother, as I understand it, and said, "Bring me some makeup."

I mean, who knows what will happen? It's not possible to always predict what will be the natural course of a tragedy of this nature.

COLMES: Dr. Dobson, good to have you on the show. Welcome back.

DOBSON: Hello, Alan.

COLMES: Does a person have a right to decide that they don't want to be — have any extraordinary measures taken, should they find themselves in this kind of a situation?

DOBSON: Well, I don't think so. I don't — I don't believe in a right to die. I think that God is in control of our destiny, and I don't think so.

But in this case, Terri has not asked for this. She has not signed a statement that she...

COLMES: Her husband says she has.

DOBSON: Well, who believes him? I mean...

COLMES: I do.

DOBSON: ... talking about a conflict of interest, this man has got all kinds of reasons to want her dead.

COLMES: That's speculation, Dr. Dobson.

DOBSON: It looks awful suspicious, Alan. You know, he got $700,000 to take care of her in the malpractice suit. Four hundred thousand of it is gone for legal fees, and who knows where the rest of that money is? And if she dies, he keeps the money.

He's has already had two babies out of wedlock with the woman he is living with who is not his wife.

COLMES: But he...

DOBSON: And I just don't — I just don't believe what he is saying.

COLMES: He has stated otherwise, Dr. Dobson. He stated he stands to make no money. Any money that he has had has already been spent. He has stated, and this is her husband, and legally the husband gets to decide. Do we change the pecking order and make it so that a husband can't speak on behalf of a wife who may have confided that in the husband, so that the parents — only the parents decide?

DOBSON: I think you sure should. I mean, how many husbands would want their wives deciding whether or not they live or die or vice versa?

There is something called the sanctity of life here, and you've got to honor it. And you don't go killing people who are not in a vegetative state, you know, even if she were.

I mean, let me ask — let me put it this way. We now have Pope John Paul, who is critically ill and he is being sustained through a respirator. What if he would go into a vegetative state? Are you going to pull the plug on him?

COLMES: Well, I think it's a matter of what one has to do...

DOBSON: Who is going to decide this?

COLMES: This is called a persistent vegetative state. Let me put up on the screen here what Dr. Ron Cranford has said. He examined her as part of the initial court case here, a neurologist from Minnesota. And here's what he had to say.

"She's vegetative. She's flat-out vegetative. There's never been a shred of doubt that she's vegetative, and nothing's going to change that. This has been a massive propaganda campaign, which has been very successful because it deludes the public into thinking she's really there."

This is a doctor who actually examined her.

DOBSON: Well, tell him whether or not she is there or not, why does she follow people with her eyes? Why does she smile? You're being very selective in the evidence that you're providing from that.

COLMES: Actually, I'm not. Dr. Ira Goodman, who is the chief of neurology for Orlando Regional Health Care, says reflective — reflexive actions, he says, can be misinterpreted as conscious behaviors. Eyes can follow you around the room, but there is no awareness, according to this expert.

DOBSON: Well, again, Terri is not — is not dead, and who knows what the outcome of her case will be? And somebody has got to speak up for her.

And I want to tell you something. All those other people out there who are mentally handicapped or handicapped in some other — disabled in some other way are watching this case. And there's a shudder going up and down their spines, because what's about to happen to Terri as a result of a court decision, which I regret, could easily happen to others. And I think we have to support the sanctity of life.

HANNITY: All right, Dr. Dobson, we'll pick it up right there. We'll also talk a little bit more about the pope and his comments about gay marriage being the ideology of evil. We'll get to that more with Dr. Dobson.

Still to come tonight, you'll meet a man who has a bounty put on the head of members of the group NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Seems to be working. We'll tell you about that.

And then the Ten Commandments, once again under assault. We'll tell you the very latest about it with the great one, Mark Levin.

And much, much more, plus residents of one state may be taking matters into their own hands as it relays to ways to combat illegal immigrants getting services. Straight ahead.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLMES: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

We now continue with Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson. I want to get to the pope, sir, in just a second.

You referred to putting a shudder down the spine of those who are handicapped who have seen the Schiavo case and the battle about it. But we're not talking about handicapped; we're talking about a persistent vegetative state.

And according to the — to Ronald Cranford, who was the doctor who examined her, there's never been a case of someone in this state for more than a few months who's ever recovered from this particular kind of a situation.

DOBSON: Alan, again, you are presenting the facts as though they are as you present them. But there's a lot of difference of opinion about that.

And the things that I've read say that she is in a state of minimal consciousness, that she is not in a persistent vegetative state. She's not in a coma. She is awake. And she is able to look at and relate to people.

And I don't accept that diagnosis. I just don't believe it.

COLMES: I'm referring to a doctor who actually examined her who said that.

Let me talk to you about the pope for just a second. Because, as Sean pointed out, he referred to gay marriage as the ideology of evil. The pope has also begged President Bush in the past not to initiate war, to do regime change in Iraq.

Can we selectively take what the pope says, agree with some of his statements, not others and selectively agree the pope is either right or wrong, based on where we view any particular issue?

DOBSON: Why, of course you can. We're free moral agents. We each make our own decisions about that. Those who are Catholic and are orthodox in their views of the Catholic theology are certainly entitled to believe what they believe.

That doesn't mean that we all take every word that Pope John Paul says as — as absolute. I'm not one of them who does. But I think he makes a lot of sense in the moral issues that he has pronounced.

HANNITY: You know, we are getting to the point, Dr. Dobson, as we relate to that, I mean, that — that is his position. That is his church's teaching. We're getting to the point that, if people that have a religious faith or a religious point of view and it's controversial, that they are going to be, for example, at risk of losing their tax-exempt status as a religious organization. Do you think those debates are coming?

DOBSON: I certainly do. And I think there's already a lot of indication that there is going to be religious tyranny, or at least some form of it in this country.

We had meetings today talking about what's going on in Canada at this time, where the church is going to have to conform to the official position of the government with regard to homosexuality and other issues. So there's going to be a lot of pressure on Christians, especially, but on the church generally.

HANNITY: What's going to happen and what are you planning to do, because you are so involved in the Terri Schiavo case? If a decision is made to remove the feeding tube from her and basically allow this woman or — to just die and to take her life this way, what will you do? What will other groups do?

DOBSON: Sean — what I did yesterday was talk about it on our radio program on about 3,000 radio stations here in the United States. I will continue to do what I can to try to save the life of that young woman.

She's 41 years of age. And I will fight for her. And I hope...

HANNITY: But what if they pull the tubes?

DOBSON: ... millions of people, Sean, I hope millions of people...

HANNITY: Yes.

DOBSON: ... contact the state legislature in Florida and demand a remedy for her.

HANNITY: All right. But I've known you for a long time. And you — when you get politically active, there's a lot of power behind — behind the words of Dr. James Dobson.

But specifically, if they pull the feeding tube from this girl and she's going to die and that day comes, and it may very well come in the next couple of days...

DOBSON: Yes.

HANNITY: ... what action will you take at that point? And have you spoken with other people? What actions are they planning?

DOBSON: I will ask for the support of people who are concerned about this all across the country and hope they besiege those who are making this decision and those who can act to save her.

It's happened before. It happened in 2003, where the legislature passed a bill to protect her, and they reinserted the tube. And I hope that that will happen again.

We just can't sit by and watch this woman starve to death and be dehydrated.

COLMES: Dr. Dobson, we...

DOBSON: That is wrong, and we will — we will oppose it.

COLMES: Thank you for your time tonight. Thanks for coming on the show.

DOBSON: Thank you, guys. It's always fun talking to you.

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