Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What He Said

A measured Christian voice recognizes the absurdity of taking the Schiavo argument to either extreme.

Fifty years ago (as Dr. Kearns so eloquently points out) we allowed our family members to pass away when they were sick, partially because medical technology couldn't necessarily keep them alive, but also perhaps because that generation understood death (especially from a Christian perspective) a bit better. Conservatives have cried "Nazi" at this, claiming we are only a short step away from the eugenics of the Third Reich. We only slouch toward totalitarianism when the State cannot allow families to care for their own. Let us make the medical decisions for our loved ones. If someone believes this has been done in bad faith, the state court system can arbitrate those disagreements. A "culture of life" does not mean we cannot allow our loved ones to pass away.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between allowing the dying to pass away, as in pulling the plug on a respirator or not doing more surgery, and actively causing death, as in denying food and water to someone who could live on indefinitely.

Terry Schiavo is not dying. Well, she is now that she is being starved and dehydrated, but otherwise, she is not dying.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

There is no difference, in the current situation, between the two categories of care you identify. You say it's one thing to pull the plug on a respirator and another thing to pull the plug on nutrition.

The law sees them as the same, because both involve a battery in the absence of consent. If you are truly interested in how these things are symmetrical, and how the law addresses them, see the Supreme Court's decision in Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dep't of Health.

Furthermore, they are the same for more practical reasons: even though someone who requires a respirator is surrounded with air, she can't use it without assistance; if you put food in the room, or in Terri's mouth, she wouldn't be able to ingest it, hence the tube.

In both cases, she lacks the capacity to take in needed sustenance for herself, and in both cases forcing it upon her is an illegal violation of the sanctity of her person absent her consent or that of her proxy.

12:30 PM  

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