Saturday, March 19, 2005

Right to Death?

The situation with Terry Schiavo is more and more troubling. Traditionally, it has been difficult to cut off life support for completely comatose people even when the family has decided that there is no hope for recovery. These days it is a completely different situation. Terri Shiavo's case seems much less clear. The woman has some consiousness. Seems to recognise family members and needs nothing more than a feeding tube to continue living. And yet the courts in Florida are fixated on her right to die with only some vague memory of the husband who abandoned her years ago to justify this position.
Morality has become so twisted lately. Instead of the sanctity of life, society is compelled to find reasons to kill anyone who might inconvenience others by living. If a reaon for killing Terri Schiavo exists, then a reason for killing anyone else can be found. We are now told that it is uncivilized to kill murderers but these same people who claim a moral high ground will kill unborn children and newborn children with disabilities and claim a "right" to death for Terri Schiavo who never asked for one and whose parents love and treasure the life she retains - for now.
Our new secular society has claimed all God's powers. How far is this from Nazi Germany or the Soviet Gulag's?


Liam said...

I agree with you, and plan to post something about this on my own blog.

However, I was talking to a friend on the other side, and I found his counter argument interesting. (Since I don't hold it, I probably won't do it justice, but here goes). He feels that the distinction between a feeding tube and (say) artificial breathing or artificial stimulation of the heart beat is one of degrees. My biggest argument is that food and water is necessary to all life forms, and so to withhold them feels like murder, when the body is capable of sustaining life as long as those basic needs are provided.

His argument goes on further to say that we have way too many people in this country who are truly alive and functional, on whom we expend few resources, and he feels it's criminal to spend the kind of money and energy on this case when there are people starving, not just in other countries, but some here at home as well.

It's a tough situation. All I know is that starving someone to death, or dehydrating them, feels like murder if there's sufficient brain-power left to keep the body going, while removing medical enhancements which are keeping someone TECHNICALLY alive near total brain death has occurred feels simply like recognizing failure.


Ralph said...

It is certainly true as your friend argues that the distinction between a feeding tube and breathing assistance is one of degrees. The difficulty is in drawing the line between enough and too much. It also to me is a matter of suffering. Without breathing support, death is relatively quick and painless. Starving a person to death is neither just as you observe
One more observation. Whose money is your friend so intent on saving? It is not mine, yours or his and who is he to spend - or not spend- someone's money.
It seems to be the socialistic states where this idea seems to emerge - like the Gronigen (sp?) protocols in Holland for killing imperfect babies.

Mike said...

Hey Ralph, I dropped in to repay the visit.

I hope we can disagree agreeably here, but a lot of people on the left are making similar Nazi comparisons because of the way Congress usurped judicial authority to save her.

It's a tragic case, and I have two daughters. Would hate to think how I would handle a similar tragedy. But if we intervene here, how do we say "no" in the next case?

I wrote my own take if you or anyone else cares to read:

But let me ask this, rhetorical question: Has anyone thought what Terry would have thought of using her image, the video clips or her being propped before cameras, before and after photos in the media circus this has become? Would she want to see herself exploited for political gain?

Liam said...

I, also, have written up my opinions of the case on my own blog,

I'm not sure it's a case that really deserves to have the congress of our nation passing laws regarding it, certainly I think it's criminal the extent to which her situation is being used for political gain.

It doesn't, however, change my opinion on the core facts of the case. Everyone should have a will with a health care directive, spelling out clearly their wishes in cases such as this one, because ultimately what's right in the case comes down to Terry Schiavo's wishes, and clearly those who know her best (her husband, her parents) disagree on what those wishes are.