With the news of Terri’s death today I pray that we learn some lessons from it. That this be truly a wake up call to the culture of death. Many of us have been falsely lulled into a belief that their has been some progress in the pro-life front. That a growing condemnation of abortion equated to generally a growing pro-life movement. This sad case proves that our view of human life is very utilitarian.
Part of the growth in belief against abortion is the result of new ultrasound techniques that show babies have more identifiable human characteristics earlier then was generally known. Case in point is how in England there are attempts to lower the time time for legalized abortion by a couple of weeks because of newer ultrasound pictures. These pictures did not generally make people want to outlaw abortion, but just to limit it to an earlier time. This only shows that if it starts just to look more human that people become more squeamish about it. So while this is positive progress if you are under the time limit you are still open game. Earlier stages of human development can still be slaughtered because of how they look or because they are really small. The lesson that all human life has dignity and the right to life has not really been learned. If you fall outside of the parameters of how somebody defines what it means to be human then hunting season is open.
What we are doing to the front end of human development we are also doing on the other end. Those that are not deemed to be living a fully human life are also not deemed to be human and not worthy of life. If it is perceived as that you are no longer conscience of your surroundings then it would just be better to put you down. Whatever happened to where there is life there is hope? Does this only apply to people in the cases of miraculous embryonic stem-cell cures? Though in the case of Terri if she was allowed to live and never substantially improved she was still a human person to be treated with dignity. Death by dehydration is not dignified. Purposeful attempts to directly cause someone to die by removing the basic means for life is not dignified for that person nor for the persons instrumental in their removal.
Justin Katz describe what our society is doing as "Chipping at the edges"
I’m wading deeply into speculative waters, but there seems to me clear reason to worry about a society that begins trimming its notions of rights and worthiness around the edges. Anybody who’s ever thought a Monday morning head cold would never fade knows that suffering is a fluid concept; when current, it feels eternal and unbearable. And anybody who’s ever been through or witnessed a teenage romantic breakup knows that whether a life is worth living is a matter of mushy perspective.
We all rightly despise suffering, and it is right to wish that our world did not include it. It’s also right to desire to relieve it in some way. We’d best be wary of looking to death for that relief, however, lest it become the prescription for midlife discomfort.
We not only as Senator Moynihan said have "defined deviancy down", but we have defined what consists of being human down. In a society that largely has no problem sacrificing human embryos for alleged cures we should not be surprised that the other end of the life spectrum can be sacrificed for not matching the current definition of being fully human.
This case has also shown that we do live in a black-robeocracy. That congress can pass a law that can basically be ignored and even declared unconstitutional We are very good at redefining terms to suit what we want them to mean. The road to the execution of Terri Schiavo started with house Bill 2131 to amend Florida law to redefine the legal definition of life support to include artificially provided food and hydration. This bill was introduced by a legislator who was on the board of the same hospice where Terri died today. This of course is the same board that included George Felos and Judge Greer. The bill previously signed into law to save Terri was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. So whenever there is some pesky law passed by our representatives it can be just ignored by slapping the unconstitutional tag to it. Here is SecretAgentMan’s analysis of the law that congress passed and how the writers of the bill are complicit with how the courts reacted to it.
One of the unfortunate side effects of the Congresses action was that it took the heat of the Florida legislature for the most part. We can complain about Judges all we want but it was a Republican dominated Florida Senate that could not pass HB 701 "Artificially Provided Sustenance and Hydration". The vote was 18 to 21 and they still have not released the names of the Senators who voted against it. This bill not only would have saved Terri’s life but it would fix the 1999 bill that lead to this. Others in my state of Florida our still not safe and can still be denied life’s most basic needs. Pressure must still be applied to correct this situation here in Florida and wherever else life support has been redefined.
We have tried to fight for the human dignity of Terri Schiavo and others who are in some ways disabled. We must also remember the human dignity of those who worked towards her death. While the actions that were taken against her are gravely wrong we must not make the same mistake as to dehumanize them or to call them subhuman. I pray for Michael Schiavo, Judge Greer, George Felos and others that this sin might not be held against them and that they repent of their actions in support of euthanasia.
Unfortunately one of my older posts of Terri seems to be a high web searches for Terri’s death and I had to close comments because I was getting some very sad and sick comments. The culture of death is in full swing and our actions against it must start with prayer and then action to defeat it.
Please also pray for the repose of Terri’s soul and for her family who have suffered so much.