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Good that Ben Carson responded about Schiavo remarks, but there are still concerns

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

November 18, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - I am happy that Dr. Ben Carson finally responded to pro-life movement concerns about his remarks on the Terri Schiavo death. However, as we report in another story today, the Schiavo family and pro-life leaders are not enthusiastic about Carson’s explanation. The response indicates he still does not understand what happened to Schiavo and the full implications of that barbarous precedent.

Carson appreciators, which some of us at LifeSiteNews have been for some time, cannot fail to recall that this was not just about a “media frenzy” during which “the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient.” That was certainly part of what happened. But it misses the most alarming aspects of the Terri Schiavo medical murder.

Before explaining further, I should note that some readers have chastised LifeSite and anyone else who reported alarm about Ben Carson’s comments on Schiavo. They want us to assume that any reporting that does not reflect well on what the good doctor says is always taken out of context, and that if we don’t take that approach then there is something wrong with us.

Some of Ben Carson’s comments have indeed been taken out of context, as our Ben Johnson noted in his blog post describing the masterful job Carson recently did in responding to his media attack dogs. I viewed the back and forth. Carson was amazing. However, that has not always been the case. This latest incident still warrants concern.

The negative effect of political affiliation on many pro-lifers

I have been involved in every facet of the life and family issues for over 35 years. One thing has become very apparent over that time: politics does strange and disturbing things to the judgment of even many of the very best of people.

Once they become identified with a candidate, objectivity frequently goes out the window for overly trusting and politically very green pro-lifers. The personal identification with the candidate is not permitted to be disturbed by any uncomfortable facts.

The consequence is that candidates who proclaim themselves to be pro-life, pro-family are given a free ride from normal accountability by their base. The base should instead be constantly strengthening and challenging their candidate by both praising him when warranted and expressing concern when he weakens on principles or makes unclear statements on those principles.

This free-ride behavior has led to many political losses for life and family as the candidates are then freed to gradually pay more attention to their usually flawed political advisers. Most professional political advisers rarely understand our issues and are usually, at best, personally opposed. The candidates then either don’t say or do what they should or gradually move over to the deadly, guaranteed-to-lose “center,” seduced with bad advice that they must do this "to win”.

The temptation is frequent and overwhelming. The supporters who silently accept this behavior are themselves often largely responsible for the ultimate poor performance of their candidates.

We have to hold candidates accountable for everything they say, but not without also encouraging, thanking and otherwise supporting them for all that they do that is right. They need this from us. You are not doing any pro-life candidate any favor by not making sure they know when they misstep.

The need for trustworthy, knowledgeable pro-life counsel

A few months ago, when we saw Ben Carson stumbling very badly on some pro-life related questions, we privately contacted the campaign, as we would gladly do for any similar candidate. As concerned individuals with many years of experience on the life and family issues, some of us offered to help Ben Carson to better understand the most important aspects of our issues and how to best answer the questions certain to come up.

We saw that Dr. Carson was a good, sincere man, but not nearly as schooled on the life and family issues as he should be in order to avoid more misunderstandings and poor responses in the future. And that is not a slam against him.

Almost all candidates are in this position. Even most Catholic bishops are greatly lacking a good understanding of the crucial details, implications and real truths of the on-going war against vulnerable human life and the family. Very few of these leaders have the time to study these issues as they should, and as we do full-time, all year round. But they don’t have to. There are many very trustworthy, long-time leaders more than willing to provide free counsel.

Most leaders hugely underestimate how much there is to learn about our issues, how crucial they are to any nation and the extent of deception and outright lying that must be waded through to get to the truth.

The Carson campaign did not accept our offer even though it was promised to be totally confidential and off the record. We then at least hoped that they would turn to other similarly experienced persons to bring Dr. Carson up to a higher level of awareness on the issues. It does not matter to us who does this as long as they are solid.

That does not seem to have happened. At least not yet, although he has generally been getting much better at responding on the life issues.

Carson's response today reveals he is still not aware of what happened

Today, Dr. Carson stated, "When the patient is not terminal, as Terri Schiavo was not, the treatment plan should be determined on the basis of the consensus between the family and the healthcare providers" and "Terri’s case should have never been turned into the media circus that we witnessed." Of course everyone agrees with that, but that was not possible in this case.

Carson’s response reveals that he still is not aware of what happened to Terri and how her husband, who hated Terri’s parents and siblings, and a corrupt court forced the removal of nutrition and hydration from Terri.

Terri would have likely lived at least several or perhaps more years and was well aware of and enjoyed those who came to visit her. She was falsely portrayed as being in a vegetative state. Her adulterous husband had shacked up with another woman some years ago and clearly wanted her out of the way while proclaiming that death is what Terri wanted. He stood to financially benefit in a large way from her death.

Police snipers were posted on the roof of the building where she was slowly being starved and dehydrated to death. Her parents and siblings were permitted very controlled access to her. Visits were closely monitored by security agents who watched their every move as they saw their daughter/sister slowly executed before their eyes. It was barbaric, horrendous, and in the end a moral indictment against the whole nation. It became in international story.

There were extraordinary actions taken to ensure that no one interfered with Terri’s extremely painful death. Her siblings, her parents, Fr. Frank Pavone, who spent time with her in her room in the hospice – no one was permitted to relieve her suffering. Not even permitted to moisten her painful, cracked lips.

"I respect the emotions of the Schiavo family and know that this is a painful and difficult issue for many who defend the sanctity of life," Dr. Carson said.

That statement undoubtedly has been felt by many to be demeaning, as though it was mainly about emotions or that any concern everyone had was because the family was having to endure emotional sufferings due to some ordinary medical event in the life of a very ill person.

Well, I can tell you, I was angry back then when this took place, as were thousands and thousands of others. This whole saga, with the complicity of the medical system, the courts, the police, the media, even some priests, bishops and medical ethicists and the negligence of all who should have done much more, was a great evil.

It almost seemed at times that the entire nation would be held accountable for participating in the very public, slow execution of Terri Schiavo. She was a special victim, a sign of something much greater than herself. This was some kind of special test of America that was permitted to happen. America failed.

Today, ten years after the deed was done, I find my disgust and anger has not lessened. Justice has not yet been done.

Dr. Carson should speak to Terri's brother

Dr. Carson supporters should understand that there are many like myself who were astonished at his remarks which indicated that he would have been much better to have not commented on something that he is obviously not well informed about. The Terri Schiavo killing had far greater significance than he is aware. He should research it  - now – and talk to Bobby Schindler, her brother and others who were there, who went through it all. And then, he can speak about it, confident that he has all the facts.

There is much more that can be said, but I draw your attention to a few past reports on Terri Schiavo at the bottom of this article which will be enlightening for those not familiar with the events that happened then in Florida.

Then enter “Terri Schiavo” into the LifeSite search. Many further articles will be returned to further your education on this dark event in American history.

After reading these, anyone with a heart and an objective mind will understand why there was such consternation over Dr. Carson’s comment that it “was much ado about nothing”, even though he says he meant it to refer to the inappropriate media reaction.

I don’t condemn Ben Carson for this. He has much to offer America that is good and we have been delighted to report his responses to establishment challenges, such as when he was asked if he would abort baby Hitler. He had the right answer – immediately. He would not abort anyone. Good for him.

However, Dr. Carson needs to bone up on the life and family issues. He is not nearly as well informed as he should be, but is definitely better than most.

Significant related articles:

The cruelty of Terri Schiavo’s death

10 years ago today, Terri Schiavo died an agonizing death. I was with her family. Where were you?

Terri’s fight: Timeline

Frequently asked questions

The Catholic Church’s Terri Schiavo scandal

Also, for videos of Terri and much more information see Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network

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Steve Jalsevac

Steve is the co-founder and managing director of LifeSiteNews.com.