A hypocrite in the House?

Tom DeLay says that withholding life support from Terri Schiavo is "murder." But DeLay "went along" in 1988 when life support was withheld from his own father.

By Tim Grieve
Published March 28, 2005 1:51PM (EST)

Over the course of the last two weeks, House Majority Leader has referred to the withdrawal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube as "barbarism," "murder" and an "act of judicial terrorism." A question one might ask: If withholding life support from Schiavo is such a crime, why did DeLay acquiesce in the decision to withhold life support from his own father in 1988?

As the Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend, DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay, was gravely injured in 1988 in an accident involving a homemade tram that was supposed to carry family members from the DeLays' home to a lake down a steep hillside.

DeLay, then a third-term congressman, flew home to be at his father's bedside. Weeks later, as the elder DeLay's organ began to fail, the family decided to deny the man treatments that would have extended his life. The congressman "went along" with that decision, his mother told the Times.

DeLay refused to talk to the Times about the case. A spokesman told the paper: "The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's." The spokesman meant that DeLay's father needed "a ventilator and other machines to sustain him," while Schiavo "only" needs a feeding tube. But the DeLays' situation was different in another way, too: When the DeLays were forced to confront their own horrible decision, they were able to do so peacefully and in private -- without a member of Congress using their pain to score political points and accusing them of murder in the process.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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