The Florida courts in the Terri Schiavo case were not considering a “right-todie” case but rather a “right-to-kill” case. Does the state have a right to order an execution? Indeed it does and in spite of the fact this woman was not a criminal and no more terminal than any one else, the state exercised the right.
We can spend a great deal of time debating if Terri was in a chronic vegetative state or if food and water are extraordinary means for keeping a person alive. We can argue the motivations which lead Mr. Schiavo to begin seeking to take his wife’s life just five months after the final award of settlement in Terri’s malpractice case. That he chose a physician who is an expert witness on death rather than life or rehabilitation and refused any diagnostic efforts to determine actual brain functioning. We can discuss judicial malpractice or governmental indifference, but in any case it will not change the outcome. Terri is dead.
The media focused on bemoaning the terrible fate of being “trapped” inside a nonfunctioning body and understanding everything is always about us, awakened in many the importance of a “living will.” Since the mainstream media does not like to confuse its subscribers with facts other than those selected and adapted to fit the template of death, some media outlets even gave us “facts” about the euphoria associated with starving to death. I guess that’s why “normal” people turn to cannibalism under extreme circumstances to keep from dying of laughter.
My concern is we have watched as a court determined another’s quality of life, judged that life not worth living and then ordered an execution. I see people living wonderful full lives with handicaps and challenges I would not want to have. Should I have the power to dismiss their lives as not worth living? Should I have the power to take their lives out of “compassion” for them? Would not the “compassionate” thing have been a lethal injection?
I have no doubt if you locked someone up and denied them food and water it would not be considered letting them die with dignity.
There are those who have asked what’s in it for Michael: the grieving husband who fought so valiantly to end his wife’s life. He needed to have the closure of death to help him get on with his life. I am not sure taking another woman and siring children is always an act of grief or dedication. I have to wonder what’s in it for Terri’s parents and siblings — why did they want their daughter and sister to suffer so? Why did not one other member of that large family share Michael’s great compassion? I am concerned we have created another class of individuals who can be murdered without regard, like the unborn — those who “want” to die even if they have never expressed that to anyone. People have an incredible ability to give up when they no longer want to live, maybe Terri didn’t want to give up even when she was being starved to death because she wanted to live.
There is a great difference between physician-assisted suicide and state-assisted homicide. I am not sure we are ready to embrace either.
Bill Upton has been pastor of First Assembly of God in Tooele for 16 years. For past articles and times of worship see www.tooelefirstag.org.