Monday, March 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo -- an intolerable dilemma?

I started out reading about this Schiavo thing as a bit of an agnostic. My wife and I have living wills saying we'd prefer not to live under Terri's circumstances. I've slowly come around to the "keep the tube in" postion mainly for two reasons. 1) We have no reliable evidence that Terri would want to be starved, 2) Terri has a loving family -- father, mother, brother, sister -- who consider it a joy, not a burden to take care of her.

Another thing the controversy has made me consider is the idea that Terri's life is not worth living. Maybe that's how some of us honestly feel for ourselves, but what do our preferences for ourselves have to do with Terri? I get the impression that some folks want Terri dead because it challenges their notion that there is no important side of life that resides in the soul.

And that has to be wrong.

Our desires for ourselves shouldn't matter if Ms. Schiavo preferred otherwise. Just because we recoil at the idea of being bedridden and helpless doesn't mean that type of existence is so worthless it should not be lived at all. Is a life's worth to be judged by what it accomplishes, by whether such a life would be "intolerable" for most of us? Who are we to decide for someone else? Take a look at an excellent discussion on this "intolerable dilemma" at Sisu's weblog.

Ms. Schiavo left nothing in writing about what she'd prefer. What we do know is that her family have cared for her for years and are willing to continue doing so. In fact, they are fighting furiously to keep her alive. Absent evidence that Ms. Schiavo would want otherwise, who dares say her existence is worthless and tells her parents you have no right to comfort, commune with and pray for her even if you have given up hope?"

Plenty more discussion at Wizbang and Florida Cracker and a very good article here.