Fox News solidified its "pro-life" creds when, as part of the media circus outside Terri Schiavo's hospice, Fox hosts (particularly Sean Hannity) openly supported Terri's own family's (Schindler) attempts to override her husband's decision to take her off life support. And now that a California teen has been declared brain dead after tonsil surgery, the anti-choice movement is supporting her family's attempts to keep her on artificial life support. Fox is now taking up this sad situation. Not surprisingly, Fox's Mike Huckabee is also supporting the family's decision. Thus, I was expecting that official Foxpriest, Fr. Jonathan Morris would adhere to what I speculated was the official Fox "pro-life" position. Surprisingly, his comments about the matter, on this morning's Fox & Friends, were a bit unexpected.
Tucker Carlson opened the segment by reminding the viewers of how the Terri Schiavo case "bitterly divided the country [thank you Fox News] with the question of whether Terri Schiavo should die or be kept alive." Video of Schiavo was shown. He reported that "the family at the center of that controversy is stepping in to defend a teen clinging to life after a tonsillectomy gone wrong." He played video of Schivao's brother, on last night's Huckabee show, saying how terrible it was that her sister had been labeled brain dead which, of course, was the medical and legal consensus. Bobby Schindler whose family's attempts to override the decision of Terri's husband included enlisting the advice of Fox fave Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life), asked "what's the rush" and "why not give her some time." Clayton Morris defined the case as "science vs. religion."
The Fox message seemed to be that despite medical authorities having declared Jahi McMath legally dead, all efforts should be made to keep the lifeless child on life support. I was expecting Fr. Jonathan Morris to validate this position. I was surprised by his response. I think the Friends were, too.
Morris began by saying that he is offering his opinion based on the information available and predicted that his statements might offend some people. He asserted that it's not "up to religion or faith to determine when somebody is alive or dead" because that is based on "science." (Not popular with the Christian right!) He noted that when there is a scientific consensus on whether somebody is dead, religion should provide a way to cope with the loss and not be a tool for trying to "bring somebody back to life" or "suggest that you keep them on life support even though they're dead." He cited the doctor's assessment that the girl has "no brain movement, whatsoever." In a possible attempt to assuage the pro-lifers, he claimed that this is different from Schiavo who had brain activity - a claim not borne out by medical experts who determined that her brain was just liquified.
In a possible attempt to get Fr. Morris back with the program, Carlson cited cases where "it's not so clear" whether people are alive or dead and "there's not a scientific consensus." Morris cited medical criteria upon which ethicists agree and repeated his contention that there Jahi has no brain activity and in that case "you don't say that God tells me to keep her alive." He later said something that is anathema to many in the Christian right: "We have to trust science." The Friends were quite muted at the end of the segment. Tucker Carlson mumbled a thanks to the priest.
Usually, the Christian right and the Catholic Church are in sync when it comes to culture war issues. In this case - not so much. So as this situation unfolds, what will the Fox say?!
I actually felt sad that Fox would drag him on air without knowing how uninformed he would sound.
People are gonna cling to whatever little hope there is.