On Monday, Republican Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson gave a heartfelt speech about the death of his daughter. Elizabeth Thompson Pancini passed away in 2002 at the age of 38 after an accidental overdose of prescription pills. Elizabeth suffered severe brain injury as a result of the overdose, dying six days later in a Tennessee hospital.
Fred admitted to the audience at the Florida campaign stop that the experience made him firmly believe the government needs to remain uninvolved in family decisions regarding those with devastating brain injuries and life support.
Although Fred declined to say if Elizabeth was on life support during her struggle, he addressed Terri Schiavo case to drive his point home:
Obviously, I know about the Terri Schiavo case. I had to face a situation with that in my own personal life with my own daughter.
I know this is bandied about as a political issue, and people want to make it such and talk about it in the public marketplace a lot. I am a little bit uncomfortable about that because it’s an intensely personal thing. These things need to be decided by the family, and I was at that bedside, and I had to make those decisions with the rest of my family.
I will assure you one thing, no matter which decision you make, you will never know whether or not you made exactly the right decision. So making this into a political football is something that I don’t welcome. And this will probably be the last time I ever address it.
Fred added he believed the decision should be left to loved ones rather than the federal government.
It should be decided by families. The federal government and the state government, too — except for the court system — ought to stay out of it, as far as I’m concerned.
Fred represented Tennessee as Senator from 1994 to 2002. He gained popularity acting in movies such as Cape Fear, The Hunt for Red October, and Racing Stripes. He later gave up his regular role on NBC’s Law & Order to run as a presidential candidate.