Medical attention was available but couldn’t be delivered. Death by starvation and dehydration was imminent as the days dragged by without relief. Everyone knew what was going on yet no one seemed able to do anything about it. In an unprecedented, emergency session the President and Congress of the U.S. acted decisively to preserve life.
And critics loudly protested this federal intervention as a usurption of state powers and unwarranted intervention into personal rights, the local authorities refused to act on the federal mandate, and Terri Schiavo died.
Now many of the same voices are blaming the federal government for not overriding the authority, responsibilities and policies of the city or state government to protect its citizenry. Certainly some of these citizens who refused to evacuate in advance of Katrina voluntarily accepted the consequences of their decisions just, as some claim, as Terri Schiavo did. Others who were weak, vulnerable or incapacitated had no choice but to be at the mercy of the actions or inactions of others. That, too, should sound familiar.