Euthanasia Versus Torture?

So Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube has been removed.

Frankly, I haven’t gotten into this one that much — I just don’t believe it’s as black-and-white as either side seems to want to make it into. But given Tom DeLay’s rantings, I can’t help but believe that the G.O.P. leadership’s intense sentiment on this issue is just an outgrowth of their “torture is good” mentality.

There’s absolutely no way to determine exactly what Terri Schiavo would have wanted. Can’t happen. So all this is, in effect, is a legal battle to determine who can best make the call. It strikes me that her husband — already determined many times over as her legal spokesperson — should be the one to do so. Not to overly diminish her family’s wishes; I do find it hard to believe they’re in it just for the publicity (as opposed to all of the politicians and demonstrators who’ve jumped on the bandwagon — on both sides).

Wholesale condemnation of euthanasia is, frankly, idiotic; religious dogma taking over for basic human decency. But neither is there an easy way to decide when to make that determination. It’s not a cut-and-dried decision.


At 10:30 PM, Tiff said...

I figure, Michael Schiavo probably did stop caring about Terri's best interests a long time ago. But the fact is, she married him, and in doing so, freely gave him the right to make end-of-life decisions in case something just like this happened.

And I am loath to set a precedent that would interfere with the rights of potentially millions upon millions of other couples who will eventually be faced with just such a decision just because Michael Schiavo is a poor posterboy for spousal rights. I believe in Terri's right to life, but I also believe in Michael's right to decide when the line has been crossed between prolonging life and prolonging death. (It's called the sanctity of marriage- perhaps Republicans remember caring about that? ;) )

My personal opinions about euthanasia and what is and is not morally right to do at the end of a person's life are complex and nuanced... which is why I think the state ought to stay out of it as much as possible- these decisions shouldn't be made by the courts.

At 5:12 PM, Bill Coughlan said...

I couldn't agree more that euthanasia's a complex decision. On the one hand you get a nut like Kevorkian running around as the de facto spokesperson for the so-called "right to die," and on the other you've got the extremists shouting that no matter how horrific one's "life" is, even the individual doesn't have the right to decide to end that suffering.

And yeah, Michael Schiavo ain't exactly a saint. I was talking a bit about the case with a friend this weekend and the question arose as to why now is he suddenly deciding she would want to end her life -- as opposed to years prior. Nothing's changed about her condition. I do think that he should have the right to move on with his life -- but then that's really a separate issue from what her best interests are.

As for the decisions being made by the courts, unfortunately they're the only arbiter of the law we have. In this case, the only issue really at stake should be whether the husband is legally empowered -- by statute and reasonable competence -- to make such a decision. Anything beyond that is truly judicial (and legislative) activism -- and (as of a few minutes ago) the Senate's just decided to join in.

But I'm not about to jump up and argue wholeheartedly for either side. One, I do think there are subtleties involved that I just haven't researched enough, and two, I don't want to be as guilty as those using this poor woman's condition as an excuse to hop on a soapbox.

So for the record, consider my definitive opinion unregistered.

At 7:54 PM, Tiff said...

I agree with you about the courts- what I meant was that I don't want courts deciding what Terri's medical treatment would be; they should only be deciding who has the legal right to make that decision.

What makes me think Michael Schiavo is a scumbag, though, is that when he was presented with the option of divorcing Terri and leaving the money from the lawsuit over her condition for her care and letting her parents become her next-of-kin (thereby getting to move on with his life), he didn't take it. So it really does look to me like this is more than just a little bit about money for this guy, and that's what galls me about this whole thing.


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