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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on the Lars Larson Show
March 14, 2005

LARS LARSON, HOST: Right now, I want to jump right to a topic that we have taken up many times on this show. It involves Terri Schiavo, who is not comatose. She is not brain-dead, and she is not dead, as much as her husband would like her to be dead. But there's a man out there who, along with a lot of other good folks, is trying to work on her behalf.

Ambassador Alan Keyes, welcome to the Lars Larson Show.

ALAN KEYES: Hi. I'm glad to be with you. How are you?

LARSON: Glad to have you on. Why did you decide to take up this particular cause, Ambassador Keyes?

KEYES: Well, we have actually--we, being people that I know and people who are part of my little universe of friends and supporters--we've been supporting the Schindlers for a long time. I think it's critical now, because of the judge's decision, and the possibility that we may actually see her done to death by this cruel means of starvation beginning on the 18th.

And what is, I think, most instructive about the whole intent of this is that he has now forbidden feeding by normal means. I mean, this all started on the excuse that, somehow, she could be taken off of a feeding tube, and yet now, he is basically mandating that she must die, even if she is capable of being fed by normal means.

So, the aim here is really judge-assisted murder.

I think it is really something that ought to be disturbing to all of us, both because of the constitutional implications--you've got judges acting in total derogation of the basic rights of an individual, you've got two branches of the Florida government who believe that this is unconstitutional, and yet are being totally ignored by the third, supposedly equal branch--and you also have a precedent that, I think, ought to be of great concern to anybody who thinks that they might find themselves someday in a helpless position, including all of us, as we age.

LARSON: Ambassador Keyes, there's a specific piece of legislation you'd like to see passed, that might assist in Terri Schiavo's case and in others?

KEYES: Well, I think we are part of the effort to see something put down in law that would protect the rights of individuals in this situation, so that you wouldn't have somebody in the situation of Terri Schiavo's husband, able to come forward and--despite the fact that there's a clear, I think, endemic conflict of interest in his situation--be taking decisions for the individual without proper representation, counsel of any kind, really acting on her behalf.

LARSON: And we're looking at the 18th, this coming Friday, as being the ultimate deadline.

KEYES: We are. And I have been making the point, which I think is very important, that it shouldn't be allowed to happen.

We are supposed to live under a constitution of three equal branches, and that means that each branch of government has a responsibility to preserve the Constitution--especially the executive branch. So that, if a travesty is being committed--a kind of judge-assisted murder, lynching, whatever it might be--I think it's incumbent on the executive to act in order to make sure that that destruction of Constitution and constitutional right does not take place.

And I'm saying this in the hope that Jeb Bush will think through the prerogatives of his situation, and act in order to make sure that this step is not taken, and that Terri Schiavo's rights are respected.

LARSON: We're talking to Ambassador Alan Keyes, but let me ask you this. You know, before we take any calls--and by the way, if you'd like to jump in the conversation, it's (866) 509-5277.

Ambassador Keyes, how is it that all the women's rights groups, so-called, have been able to, sort of, take a pass on this one, and not have even the mainstream media dogging them to say, "Why aren't you out representing this woman? You talk about the 'right to choose,' and 'My Body/My Self,' and all that nonsense, and yet here this woman is about to be killed by her as-much-as-ex-husband, although technically he's not, and you're sitting by silently as it happens?"

KEYES: I really don't understand it. I think, for some reason that really deserves being thought through fully, there seems to be a tacit alliance between those who represent the forces promoting abortion and euthanasia, and all of these kinds of things, and those who have been vocal in the so-called "feminist" movement, and yet who never seem to stand forward in a situation like this, where basic and fundamental human rights are involved, and are being destroyed in the name of what amounts to, now, an effort further to devalue our respect for innocent human life, in order to allow this kind of judge-assisted murder.

LARSON: I know that there are people who think the "slippery slope" is overplayed at times, but really--if we're looking at a situation where a woman who's given no indication that she ever would have wanted to be killed, and especially not starved and dehydrated to death, in the case that she was incapacitated--we really ought, it feels like we're on the edge of a "slippery slope," where, you know, I've had people call me, Ambassador, and say, "Well, gosh, she has no quality of life." I said, "There are a lot of people in nursing homes who meet that description."

They say, "But, she's brain-dead." And I say, "No, she's not. She's brain-damaged."

I had a friend, when I was a kid who had a sister who had Down Syndrome--Daisy--and she was a sweet gal, but she never, probably, got past, you know, five years of age, you know, of intellectual age, and you wouldn't put her to death.

KEYES: But you and I both know, first of all, that, Number One: there have been a lot of advances, over the course of the last twenty years, and also surprising cases where people who have been in various comatose conditions, and other brain-damaged conditions, have recovered, and they don't even know the explanation.

I think we are operating here in an area that's at the limit of what science now understands about these matters. And what I find incongruous is that they will take the signs of the residual brain activity--

LARSON: Uh-huh.

KEYES: And they'll say, "Well, because of that, we should continue an effort to restart the heart and the breathing," right?


KEYES: But, it is when your heart starts beating and you start breathing that they say, "Ah! We succeeded. You're alive." Isn't that right?


KEYES: So here you have someone whose heart is beating and who is breathing and living on her own, and they want to kill her because we don't see the more subtle signs in the brain.

Final question. There was a time in human life when you couldn't measure those subtle signs in the brain, and so people didn't realize that people were still alive.


KEYES: Are the scientists, now, and these doctors who are coming forward, now trying to claim that they know enough to tell us there are no signs of life that we don't understand, that would explain why her system continues to operate? Maybe we're operating at the limit of our medical understanding, and ought to show more respect for the mysteries we still have to understand, rather than acting on what amounts to the ignorance of our scientific experts.

The truth is, they don't know about what does or does not constitute life, and with the gross signs of life--breathing and heartbeat--present, it seems to me a travesty for them to impose upon us the conclusion that somebody is dead.

LARSON: It also bothers me, Ambassador, that in most cases, if I wanted to walk into a courtroom and tell a judge that I'd like him to do something that had the potential, or really would, hurt somebody in some really meaningful way, that it'd be my burden to go in and prove to him why this action should be taken . . .

KEYES: Okay.

LARSON: Not say there's an absence of evidence.

And yet, here's this husband saying, "I want to kill my wife because, one time, she told me, but told nobody else, end her life"--

KEYES: (talking over) Nobody else. LARSON: "And I have no proof of it all"--

KEYES: (talking over) And there also were--

LARSON: (inaudible) recently.

KEYES: There were contrary witnesses, as you know, who said that, in commenting on the Karen Quinlan case, she had expressed an opposite point of view, and it's also clear that she was someone of the Catholic faith, which would also indicate a fundamental moral objection to things like assisted suicide, and that kind of mentality.

And actually, you realize that the situation we're in right now, where he's forbidding even the normal feeding mechanism?


KEYES: That is, even if you established that she had willed not to have extraordinary means used--if she had simply willed to die, "I don't want to live any more; I want to starve to death," and the judge says, "Yeah, you have the right to do that," that's assisted suicide.

And so, either way you look at it, right now the judge has way overstepped the boundaries of both common sense and what is allowable, even under the law in this country at the moment, and what ought to be allowable in a moral sense.

I think that people need to wake up, to be deeply concerned, because this has implications--I've also thought it's not an accident that it's happening in Florida, a state where a lot of folks, as you and I both know, go to retire, where you've got an--

LARSON: (talking over) Yeah.

KEYES: Elderly population. And let's not forget, human beings can be motivated by awful cynicism and other kinds of motives, and you put people in a vulnerable situation where family members who might stand to benefit from their death would be able to decide that, because of some episode that they had medically, they can now put them out of the way--what are we doing in this country, to create such temptations to crime and injustice?

LARSON: We're pushing things to the edge. Ambassador Keyes, what specific things would you like people to do today, to take some action to encourage Congress to act in this?

KEYES: Well, I think that they can get in touch with the people in Congress. They can get in touch with the state legislature to express their view. Even though both the Governor and the state legislature have, I think, been clear in their support of Terri Schiavo's life and right to live, they can contact the Governor, because I think it'd be very important to show understanding of the fact that we acknowledge that he has an independent responsibility under the Constitution of both Florida and the United States to act in defense of basic constitutional integrity and rights.

The notion that the judge makes the law, and that whatever the judges say is the dictate that the rest of us must follow, does not apply to the other branches of government which are co-equal with the judiciary, and which can pass in review the judgments made by the judiciary, in order to see whether they pass constitutional muster.

And Jeb Bush obviously feels that this step [by the judiciary] does not, and I think he needs to act, in order to defend what he believes to be the constitutional right in this case. And I think people ought to be contacting his office and letting him know that we support him in that.

LARSON: Absolutely. Ambassador Keyes, thank you for your time tonight.

KEYES: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

LARSON: Yes, sir.

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