Monday, March 21, 2005

And on the Terri Schiavo case...

All Michael Schiavo has to do is give over care of his wife to someone who wants to care for her, in this case her parents. That's it. There would be no need to worry about removing her feeding tube, no need to have Terri's right to live among us dragged from one courtroom to another. He could have walked away from this situation years ago, but won't. Why? What is it that's making him want to be the only voice for Terri? Is it just that he's fighting with Terri's parents? Is this the result of two sides who would rather see the other in Hell before they'd try to reach a working compromise on Terri Schiavo's life?

To the Senators and Representatives who debated this issue, who worried about whether or not the Federal government has a right to intervene, then intervened for this case (and, I hope, for this case only), I thank you. For those Senators and Representatives who voted to give Terri Schiavo one more chance, I thank you.

Euthanasia and the right to end one's own life is a very delicate subject. How does this fit my own worldview that human life is sacred because of each person's potential to do good in this world? The right to end one's own life goes back to the Declaration of Independence as far as I am concerned. Yes, we have the right to life, but there is also the right to liberty. In a state of liberty, we are free to determine when our life should end if we so desire. (Myself, I intend on living as long as I can. I don't want to miss anything.) We also have the right to pursue happiness. Between liberty and the pursuit of happiness we must find a balance. Is the liberty of one person counteracted by the pursuit of happiness for others? Likewise, should one person's pursuit of happiness be allowed to infringe on the liberty of others?

I see it like this. Should someone intend on ending their own life, they must determine who would be most affected by it after themselves; this ficticious person will be the one dying, after all. They must speak with the people who will be most affected by it. They must argue their position well. They must also be willing to listen to counter-arguments as to why they should still live. If they are swayed to live, good. If not, they at least know the suffering their death will cause. Their death should be quick, clean and with a minimum of mess for when their body is disposed of or interred. This ficticious person should at least have the good graces to minimize others' suffering. If you choose to end your own life, do so with the least amount of difficulty for those who will have to clean up your mess.

Now, to the stickier topic of euthanasia. If you don't want to live in a vegetative state or in a coma, GET IT IN WRITING. Get it notarized, combed over by a legion of attorneys, just like you would a will or power of attorney, whatever it takes to let people know of your desires. Let your doctors know that your wish is to die should you be in a bodily state where you can no longer physically speak for yourself. Update it, should ever change your mind. Now, should you be able to go to a doctor and force him or her to end your life when you're perfectly capable of doing it yourself? No. See my above paragraph. Your liberty and the doctor's pursuit of happiness are now in contention. Should a doctor be allowed to end your life if you cannot speak for yourself and there is no one to speak for you or make your wishes known?

No. Absolutely not. From the coldest, most practical terms of costs and benefits of allowing someone to die, it would make sense. I, however, have this view that people go into medicine to help others live. In accordance with this view of medical doctors, I want my doctor to be the kind of person who says "You are not dying on my watch. No way, no how. You are living, living well and functionally, and there will be no argument from you about it!" Yes, I'd like my doctors to be as tenacious as my MTIs when I was in Basic Training at Lackland AFB. Should they be unable to keep me alive and able to communicate, that's where it gets dicey. That's why I need to get my desire to live in writing. Anybody know a cheap and effective lawyer?

As for Terri Schiavo, I want the doctors to come down on the side of the doctors I would want. I want her to have doctors who want her to live. I want those doctors to find a place where she can do so. I want her doctors to say "just give her to her parents if they want to provide care for her. Walk away, Michael." In short, I want her to live as best as she can. I also hope for miracles in this case. I hope that Michael Schiavo will step aside and let those who care for Terri do just that.

I'm not even going into infant euthanasia. You know how I feel about abortion. Do you think I'd change my position on letting infants live as long as they could?

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