My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The value of life or: who can decide if someone wants to die?

Terri Schiavo is sentenced to death. She is supposed to die, because her husband decided that she should does not want to live anymore.
Terri suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 1990. She has been awarded a huge sum of money in a medical malpractice trial that is meant for her care and rehabilitation. Terri is in a hospice in Florida, but she is not in a so-called vegetative state nor in coma nor on a life-support system. She tries to communicate with her parents and with visitors, laughs and cries.
But her husband wants her to die since 1993. He declares that she does not want to live like this and so he wants to have her feeding tube removed. Is it clear to you what that means? It means that Terri Schiavo will slowly starve to death!
Maybe it is interesting to note that her husband is living with another woman and their two children...
The day on which Terri’s feeding tube will be removed is TODAY. Her parents have lost their last appeal, but they still try to save Terri’s life. According to other blogs the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, could also intervene on behalf of Terri’s life.

Can you imagine? The danger in giving somebody else the right to decide if someone should live or die is obvious here. Even when the person who takes the decision truly cares about the ill person’s wishes and state, this is an incredible difficult decision. But obviously there are a lot of less uncaring thoughts and wishes that can influence the decision-making process...
Who can decide if someone wants to keep on living? Who can judge from Terri Schiavo’s behavior that she wants to die? Who can decide that disabled or severely ill people do not want the life they have? Who can decide if your life is worth living? Which human can take on the position of a judge over life and death?
In my opinion none.
The value of life seems to deteriorate more and more in our society. We are in the process of creating check-lists if a life is worth having. How will that end? Disability – not worth it? No benefit for society – not worth it? Drug addict – not worth it? Terminally ill – not worth it? This is different from the ill person who decides himself if he does not want life-prolonging treatment any more. And different from the person who is brain-dead and on life-support system. And I do not even want to get into a discussion of what translated from German is called “passive help to die”.
And there are historical parallels lurking in the back of my mind... I don’t want to talk about historical precedents etc. Other bloggers have done that. I just want to bring Terri and her fate before you. What happens to her makes me want to rant and also to curl up and cry. I know this is emotional, but who can keep his emotions at low level here? I cannot...

Check out these other blogs to learn more about Terri Schiavo and what you could do to maybe help save her life: allthings2all, another post at allthings2all, a post by the anchoress and this post at Wittenberg Gate.