Thursday, March 31, 2005

It Is Finished

Well, it’s done. We have allowed Terri Shaivo the ‘dignity’ of being cruelly dehydrated and starved to death over a period of nearly two weeks. Many are secretly or openly glad because they are tired of this story. Now they can go about their regular lives without being inconvenienced with news about this unfortunate event.

But Mrs. Schaivo’s case does not exist in a vacuum. Its far-reaching effects may impact your own life – or death as the case may be. Our national psyche is now infused with the idea that it is humane and dignified to let someone die if we judge her/him to have a low quality of life. While this might be the case if death is imminent and machines are merely keeping failed organs functioning, Mrs. Shaivo was in no danger of imminent death prior to March 18. But the courts held that it was her will to commit suicide were she ever incapacitated. Our society is not yet willing to kill incapacitated people quickly so we employed a method that would result in a charge of murder were it applied to our worst criminals.

The editors of the National Review commented:
Why not kill Mrs. Schiavo quickly and efficiently, by depriving her of air to breathe? In principle, that would have been no different from denying her the other basic necessities of life. Why not give her a lethal injection? The law would not have allowed those methods; but the reason nobody advocated them was that they would have been too obviously murder. So the court-ordered killing was carried out slowly, incrementally, over days and weeks, with soft music, stuffed animals, and euphonious slogans about choice and dignity and radiance. By the time it ended, no one really remembered how many days and hours it had gone on. The nation accepted it, national polls supported it, and we all moved on to other things.
Sort of reminds me of the movies Soylent Green and Logan’s Run where people no longer useful to society were terminated.

Since I have MS, I could conceivably end up in a severely disabled state. I have told my wife that if it comes down to having machines keeping my organs pumping – and that I would die in minutes without the machines – to go ahead and pull the plug. But if I am a non-responsive money-consuming lump of flesh merely staying alive by means of a feeding tube, don’t let them pull the tube and kill me over days and weeks.

Radford University professor of political science Matthew J. Franck has an excellent analysis on how a 1990 Supreme Court ruling brought us to the point where murdering disabled people is legal. He includes Justice Antonin Scalia’s strong dissent and nearly prescient warnings of what the ruling would lead to.

So we’ve started down the slippery slope. Few believe that America is ready to plunge to the depths that the Netherlands has achieved after 30 years of legalized euthanasia, where just about anybody that doesn’t want to live or that is a drain on society is executed – uh, euthanized – with nary a second thought. But don’t be too sure. The National Review’s editors offered this chilling warning: “Next time it will be easier. It always is. Who’s next?”

1 comment:

Chelsey said...

He includes Justice Antonin Scalia’s strong dissent and nearly prescient warnings of what the ruling would lead to.
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