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Monday, March 22, 2010

Terri Schiavo Retrospective

"We do not ordinarily think that people lose their standing as human beings, and as bearers of rights, when they suddenly become weak and vulnerable and dependent on the care of others." -Hadley Arkes

Five years after the legal murder of Terri Schiavo, there exists no legal right preventing a person from being starved by an uncaring spouse.

There are only four legitimate reasons, according to Catholic ethics, to withdraw care from a patient. The first is that care is an excessive burden to the patient or family. Terri's family would have gladly borne this burden. The second is that feeding and hydration is actually causing suffering. This was not the case with Terri. Third, if the feeding will not be effective, or cannot be assimilated, feeding need not continue. Again, this was not the case. And death was not imminent, the last possibility.

Of course, five years ago people claimed that Terri, unable to speak, was essentially unconscious. This was before Belgian Rom Houben found a way to communicate by computer after twenty-three years suffering from "locked-in syndrome", which made it similarly impossible to speak.

One can only wonder if Terri Schiavo was conscious as her life was being taken away from her for her husband's convenience.

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