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Date Posted: 13:31:02 03/24/05 Thu
Author: Chuck in ND
Subject: I know this is going to really get me in trouble
In reply to: Jean 's message, "What Will Happen to Terri Schiavo?" on 10:54:51 03/23/05 Wed

but I very torn on this issue. Now Jean, you of all people know how adamantly pro-life I am. (Sorry Deb! I'm weak, I cannot go long without labels :D) But when I ask myself what I would want if I were in her shoes, I know I would want that kind of life--if one can even call it a life--to end.

There's a very big difference between this and abortion. Yes, it's true the baby is helpless and has limited physical and cognitive abilities. But there is a clear expectation and hope that the baby will mature to a fully functioning adult. After 15 yrs in a persistent vegetative state, there is very little rational hope that Terri will ever improve.

What is the purpose of life? "We will prove them herewith if they will obey..." It is eternal progression through the exersize of agency will a mortal. Terri has no more agency. There is no way she can choose good or evil. All capacity for growth--spiritual, mental, emotional--has been stripped from her. If I were in her shoes, I would want someone to help me end my mortal existence so that I could continue the eternal progression that the next life offers.

Terri makes sounds when someone talks to her. She makes the same sounds when no one is in the room.

She turns her head when someone speaks to her. Flowers turn to face the moving sun--that is not a sign of cognitive function or will.

Seven yrs ago when I first heard of the Terri Shiavo case I was horrified at the attempts to end her life. Now that I have learned more about the facts of the case I am not so sure. I've heard all the pro-life propaganda about how evil/greedy/murderous her husband is. I'm not so sure anymore.

The most compelling evidence has come from her court appointed guardian ad litem. This is the man that the courts appointed to advocate for her interests. He has neither a pro-life nor a pro-death agenda. The picture is not as black and white as the pro-life people have painted.

Since I know that I would want my life to end were I in her place, I find it hard to condemn those who think that ending her life is compassionate. Having said that, the next question is "Is it right to starve her to death?" That's a bit harder to decide. We certainly can't administer a poison--that would be murder. And while it is a very fine line, I do believe there is a clear enough distinction between deliberately ending a life and withholding care that extends a life.

Denying food and water is not as barbaric as it sounds. Most experts say that after the first 2-3 days there is very little pain, and what discomfort there is can be managed with medication. My good friend's mom recently died because she quit eating and drinking. She was elderly and had a terminal illness and decided that it was time to go. So she refused all food and water. She had some sedatives to relieve discomfort and my friend said her passing was very peaceful.

Even so, I still have hard time with this decision. I have nothing but empathy for both sides of this issue. I cannot imagine being a parent and having to admit that all hope is gone. I could not sit and watch my once-vital husband be reduced to little more than a turnip. This is a tragedy that nothing this side of the Resurrection will make right.

I pray for peace for Terri and her family.

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