I'll be honest — I don't know if I have anything left to say about Terri Schiavo (search) except the issue of "a private family matter."

I've had two of these private family matters — both my mother and my father.

So I've had to wonder over the last few days how I would feel if Sen. Bill Frist and President Bush had come marching into the emergency room when my dad's family — my stepmother, my brothers and stepbrothers and sister, me — were deciding that the cerebral hemorrhage that would leave him a "vegetable" meant we should not engage in heroic measures to continue his life.

Everybody around that bed had heard my dad say he wouldn't want that. He was 83 years old. He'd made such statements fairly contemporaneously.

We all made the call and have never had a moment where we thought we made the wrong call.

Would Frist and the president have approved?

Same thing with my mother; except in her case she decided, she spoke — in English, in a strong voice — and refused a feeding tube.

Would Frist and the president have approved?

I think they would in those cases and nobody would have interfered. But the Terri Schiavo case is different and here's how.

Michael Schiavo has, in the view of many, a compromised standing as Terri's decision maker and as a witness to her statements. Not compromised because of money, or trying to hide something somebody thinks he might have done to her, but simply because he has another "wife" and has moved on.

The courts recognize him as the husband, but many people in the public do not and are suspicious of his decisions for Terri, while conversely they see no questionable interest on the part of the parents and trust their judgment.

That's why the public is sticking its nose into this private family matter, through its elected politicians. The public smells something wrong, doesn't like it, and wants its politicians to do something.

You can argue that crass politics are at the bottom of this saga — maybe. But I think it's a simple question that has people fired up: Is Terri Schiavo being given a right to die by her own choice, or is she being killed?

That's My Word.

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