Maine’s four-member congressional delegation split evenly over a bill that could prolong Terri Schiavo’s life.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District representative, Mike Michaud, supported the measure that was approved by the House early Monday.

“He voted yes,” spokeswoman Monica Castellanos said Monday afternoon. “He believes this was clearly a difficult and important issue for the family and important that the federal courts take a look at it,” she explained.

Michaud, a Democrat, left Lewiston, where he was attending two functions Sunday, to fly back to Washington in time to take part in the House debate and vote, she added.

Tom Allen made the opposite decision.

Allen, Maine’s 1st District congressman and also a Democrat, chose not to return to Washington, he said Monday morning.

“I don’t believe it’s an appropriate matter for the Congress to consider,” Allen said of the Schiavo case.

“Over a period of seven years, 19 different judges have already considered this question and their finding was that Terri would not want to continue her life as it is today,” Allen said by telephone from Biddeford.

He said that besides her husband, Schiavo had spoken to her brother, sister-in-law and friends of her feelings about taking steps to prolong life by extraordinary means. Given that, “I don’t believe it is the job of Congress to involve itself in such intensely personal litigation,” Allen said.

“I would have voted against it,” he added, had he been in Washington.

Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office said she also missed the vote. Nevertheless, the state’s senior Republican issued a statement on the congressional intervention.

“The situation with Terri Schiavo is not only tragic, but profoundly difficult on everyone involved,” the statement said. “I have always been concerned by inappropriate government involvement for such deeply personal decisions.

“At the same time,” her statement continues, “given that a life is in the balance and such deep divisions exist within the family, I do believe it is appropriate in this instance to allow for an additional, final judicial hearing, and that is what the recently passed legislation allows.”

Sen. Susan Collins felt otherwise. Like Snowe, Collins also is a Republican.

Collins said she voted against Congress’ getting involved the matter earlier, during a Thursday night voice vote.

While visiting the State House in Augusta on Monday, the senator elaborated.

“If you think about the implications of that, to have Congress making those decisions is really a dangerous precedent,” Collins told reporters.

Any decision about Schiavo’s fate “should be made by the treating physicians and by the family members. For Congress to intervene and substitute its judgment when we’re not members of the family, we’re not members of the judiciary and we have no real knowledge of the medical condition of this very unfortunate woman” is a big mistake, she said.

“It’s inappropriate for us to be involved in deciding the fate of an individual patient,” Collins said flatly.

There’s a lesson for everyone that can be learned as a result of it, she noted.

“This is also a reminder of all of us to have a living will so that we don’t (put) our family members through such an excruciating experience,” said Collins.

“I was talking to my parents last night, and I told them while I haven’t gotten around to writing a regular will, I have done a living will. They will never be put in that position” in which they are required to decide her fate, the senator said.


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