Sunday, April 09, 2006

Terri Schiavo's Legacy

If there is one legacy of Terri Schiavo it is this: make your desires CLEAR to all, in WRITING, have a LIVING WILL, and if you hate the person who would be making the decisions for you, or fear they hate you and would rather you dead, make someone else the person who decides your fate--preferably someone you trust to carry out your wishes against the tumult of those who might wish otherwise.

The Schiavo case is sticky and not likely to happen to any of us in the same unique way because it is unlikely that our spouse will be the suspected ax-man and state-certified executioner, too. Terri's case is complicated by the fact that her husband is believed to be her murderer, at least by her family, at worst or simply did not get care for her when she was dying at best. Then, after years of carrying out her wishes to keep her alive, he decided to pull the plug because "that's what she wanted". (Could it be because it became clear to him that he wouldn't be facing murder charges? Could it be because he fell in love with someone else? Could it be because he didn't want to get a divorce and look like a scumbag for divorcing his disabled wife--so it was better to have her starved and die? Could it be that he was truly carrying out her wishes?) It seems unlikely that we'll ever know which reason now.

People like Joni Eareckson Tada, a disabled woman, worry over this case. Rightfully so! At what point is someone no longer living a quality of life that others think necessary? Should Stephen Hawking be starved? Should Chris Reeve have been denied his supplementary oxygen? Here are some other disabled people who have lead extraordinary lives despite being disabled.

What is the definition of a life worth saving? Perhaps you think this issue won't matter to you. It will. It does already.

What is the definition of a good life? A productive life? A "viable" life?

Abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, disabled rights, capital punishment, premature babies, genetic testing, gene therapy, organ growth, pharmacology, double-blind medication/treatment studies
and many more areas of life are touched by this.

For example, many adults with Autism DON'T want a cure to be found! They believe they are just different and that they offer one end of the unique spectrum of the human experience.

Baby Boomers should be very interested in the answers to these questions. Since they outnumber the next generation almost two-to-one, perhaps they've considered a possible "solution" to old folk's homes overcrowding? Since they are the first generation to believe whole-heartedly in institutionalizing the young (day care at six weeks old), their children may whole-heartedly believe in institutionalizing the old--and sooner rather than later. Perhaps palliative care when the old, worthless parent serves no further purpose will be discontinued. Comfort will stop even being a priority. Perhaps.

Worldwide, girl babies are aborted and/or killed and/or given up for adoption because of their double X chromosomes. Among those getting pregnant with artificial help, selective abortion is an option often used to increase the likelyhood of the other babies' survival. There are those who are having genetic testing via amniocentisis and having abortions to eliminate Down's Syndrome and other maladies like clubbed feet.

Hardly anyone is considering the ramifications of the slippery slope we now find ourselves gliding unhindered down.

Add to these societal trends the enhanced abilities due to cyborgs. Would you, for example, desire a higher intelligence or more accurate sight (say like an eagle's) via a computer chip? Would you find it permissable for professional baseball players to embed a chip that doubles their brains ability to react to moving stimuli? How about implanting that chip into a soldier? We are already enhancing human abilities with hormones and medications. Already people seek to enhance and extend the life they live.

Wake up people! These possibilities are not far away from today. For some people they are already here!

Who will make these decisions? The Supreme Court? Will nine people decide Western Civilization's fate? If society continues on this path, Planned Parenthood's founder Margaret Sanger's dream will be reality. Terri Schiavo will be just one more "weed" that has been removed from the human landscape. Anything less than perfection... Forget that! Anything less than super-human will be unworthy.

1 comment:

Chalmers said...

Maybe too many Star Trek episodes, sister? I jest. While I am not yet at full speed on this issue. My current concern revolves around the generic American being ok with the government (purchased by big business) making all of their decisions.

We want a King!
No you don't.
Yes, we do!
You really don't.
Yes, we really do!
Ok, you will have a king...