By JOE CRANKSHAW
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
Larry Sweazey III, 8, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., needs expensive brain surgery if he is to have a chance of a near normal life. He suffers from a nearly unpronounceable disease, unilateral polymicrogyri, in which his brain makes war on itself. Left unchecked, he would become another human vegetable. His parents, Joanne and Larry Sweazey, are hoping for a miracle, and they need help.
They have expended their allotment of all types of leave time, and friends and neighbors are trying to raise funds to help them handle this emotionally and financially draining problem.
I call attention to their problem and to what we are not seeing, and I ask why?
Where are all those staunch defenders of "life" that we saw strutting on the media stage during the last days of Terri Schiavo's life? Why are there no legislative bills aimed at insuring that young Larry can continue to live?
Where are the right-to-life forces now that we have a life that might actually be saved? Where are the president, the senators and congressmen who spoke so loudly about their belief in the sanctity of life? And why are they not taking notice of the Sweazeys and their desperate struggle?
Chance to live
Where are the protestors who fought to save Schiavo? And why are they not fighting now to save a young boy we might actually be able to save?
The president has said we must have "a presumption in favor of life." Well, let's do some presuming for young Sweazey. Let's see some of those special interests, who were willing to pay lawyers to keep Schiavo, who was in the physical state that young Sweazey may reach, come up with some money to maybe actually save a life.
Don't hold your breath. Based on what I know of politicians, it isn't going to happen, at least not until some late-night talk show gets wind of the Sweazeys and puts on an emotional show that catapults them into the limelight.
The politicians aren't rushing to the Sweazeys' aid because there are no laws they can pass, no stumps on which they can stand, just a desperate need for money and physical assistance. In short, the politicians, who have been cutting Medicare and Medicaid funds, would have to put their money where their mouths have been for the past month, and they probably won't do that.
Yet, as the Sweazeys struggle, the president and bureaucrats in Washington are debating what yardstick to use in providing medical care. For them it is an exercise in philosophy because they already have a great health-care plan funded by the taxpayers. Extending that program to the taxpayers is unthinkable because it would become -- horrors! -- socialized medicine.
The unfortunate part is the Sweazeys are not alone. There are thousands of Americans trying to find ways to care for really ill family members while trying to save enough to keep themselves out of poverty when they retire.
The two goals are almost mutually exclusive under our present system.
The struggles of the Sweazeys and all the rest are not grist for the big campaigns, because they represent ordinary people trying to live private lives, trying to survive. There are too many of them for the special interests and politicians to mold to their own goals.
When they passed the Schiavo law seeking to dictate medical and ethical decisions in her case, they did not pass an appropriations bill to pay for the costs that would have ensued. Now they are talking about how to efficiently deliver health care at a low cost. That's a good goal, until you have a critically ill family member and your own funds are bleeding away.
Hey, Jesse Jackson! Where are you? Why are you not here pleading for the Sweazeys? Hello, Sen. Mel Martinez, who crafted the Schiavo bill, where are you when the Sweazeys need help? How about Tom DeLay and the rest in Washington?
There is a chance young Sweazey can avoid a vegetative state. Why is no one in power rushing to his aid? Or, are they just waiting to debate feeding tubes and other life support after it is too late?
X Joe Crankshaw is on the staff of The Stuart News in Florida.