Right To Die?

One of the news items we missed while being overseas was the whole issue with a 41 year-old woman named Terri Schiavo in Florida. Schiavo suffered brain damage about fifteen years ago when her heart stopped briefly because of a chemical imbalance. Since then she has been in a semi-comatose state and has needed a feeding tube to keep her alive. Her husband Michael said that Terri wouldn't have wanted to stay living like this and has fought for the right to remove her feeding tube. A judge gave the order for it be done at the end of last week and for four days now she's been starving to death. This is the third time her tube has been removed, with courts stepping in the first two times to save her life. No one's quite sure how it will turn out this time.

This issue goes far beyond the right-to-die issue. Suicide is when people decide to terminate their own lives. Terri hasn't articulated her desire to die [of course, she's unable to], but we're to take her husband's word that this is what she said she would've wanted. Michael is Terri's legal guardian and, according to these courts, he has the right to say that she should die.

Terri's parents and siblings have been caring for her for years, while her husband apparently hasn't seen her for years. He's since moved on to have kids with his girlfriend and could probably just divorce her and hand over guardianship to the family. But he refuses to do so. So one individual gets to choose that another individual should cease to live; sounds more like murder to me.

I know that even some Christians aren't sure how to feel about this- pro-life Christians for that matter. This very issue was brought up in the Academy Award winning movie Million Dollar Baby. Is life still valuable and worth living even when it's not up to the standard we wish it were? There are all these arguments in support of "death with dignity," but dignity itself is a subjective issue. I wouldn't deem starvation a dignified death. There are a lot of hot button issues out there that cause division among people, but the only people who seem to be in favor of killing Terri Schiavo are her husband and some judges. Something is certainly demented about this whole thing.

Sidenote: Peggy Noonan wrote an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal Op/Ed section on the lack of political power the Republican controlled government has been able to wield in this issue. Since the election I've been sick of politics and haven't cared to discuss much about it, but now that the Republicans- the protectors of Judeo/Christian values- have control of the government, how is it that they're unable to step in and make something happen here? Perhaps of all the things on the Bush agenda, the abuse of the checks and balances system by judges should be brought to the forefront. Yet another reason why I put no faith in government.