I bring this up as a way of reminding people that Terri Schiavo's suffering and the suffering of her family were not purposeless, and despite the crush of media surrounding the Pope's death, also far from forgotten. Her fifteen year struggle culminated on the eve of the most momentous decision the Roman Catholic Church's leadership can take, and illumens the significance of the next few weeks. If many Cardinals had the idea that a "caretaker" pope might be in order, the drama in Florida works against that desire for a period of calm transition. Would the allies have selected a caretaker general on the eve of D-Day had Ike suffered a mishap?
Is the idea of a "Schiavo effect" on the conclave just another American's preoccupation with American issues projected onto the much broader and much more indifferent world? Perhaps, but I don't think so precisely because on matters of science and ethics, on morals and sharp breaks with the past, the United States sets the tempo for much of the world.
Somehow, I doubt this will happen, but you never know. We live in interesting times.