Previously, in The 10 Issues of the Schaivo Case, I outlined the many issues brought up by this fiasco. But the worst part of it all is the tortured logic that everyone seems to be using, not to mention the bad science that Louis mentioned (see comment)
Which of the following positions are inconsistent?
What's really bothering me is that many people take a "consistently pro-life" view, and along with liberals, say "I can't understand how someone can be pro-life and pro-capital-punishment." The words "I can't understand" should be replaced with "I want to continue to embrace an overly simplistic model of morality so that I don't have to think."
d. Pro-capital punishment
The Simplistic Pro-life Position: a
In all cases, these people are against any kind of taking of life. To many, that is logically consistent, and favoring "life in all cases" usually stems from the belief that
Where this position seems to falter is that it is so pro-life, it will prolong uneeded suffering in the name of what is "right" - forbidding people to die peacefully by their own accord. They don't want physicians to aid in this work of mercy, and certainly don't want the government to have the right to do this type of "mercy work."
The Typical Conservative Position: a, b, d
The reasoning for being pro-life on the abortion side, and pro-death-penalty is thus: The unborn child has rights that are being disregarded (the right to life), but the person who has committed a capital crime has forfeited their rights. Furthermore, the government has the right to administer just punishments for crimes.
Biblically speaking, capital punishment is supportable - in the same chapter that God gave Moses the commandment "thou shalt not kill," He also gave a nice long list of capital crimes. Most anti capital punishment arguments ignore this, and focus on Jesus' teachings on tolerance and mercy - but they ignore both Jesus' teachings on hell, and some of Paul's somewhat more veiled references to the government's rights to punish.
Interestingly, the Oregon Death With Dignity legislation draws a nice line - they do not permit euthanasia.
BTW, there is some very good Christian theology developed around the right to die. (I'm sorry to say that J.S. Spong was chosen to support the death with dignity position - I'm not a big fan of his theology at all.)
The Typical Moderate Position: Pick a combo
There is not typical position in the middle. Pick any combo not taken by the extremes. Are all of these combos logically consistent? Maybe. Lean a little left, lean a little right. Libertarian, green, whatever ;)
The Typical Liberal Position: b, c, d, e
This group is pro choice all the way. I should have the right to die by my own hands, and in the case of suffering, I should be able to have a physician help me. I should also be able to make the same decisions for my wards - the government should not restrict my or my family's rights to self-determination. And in the name of mercy, it may even be good to help other invalids "die with dignity."
Put in the negative, I can kill myself, ask a doctor to help me kill myself, kill my ailing spouse or child, or kill my unborn child. It's all "kill" in the name of personal autonomy and rights. OK, maybe in a few circumstances one should be restricted, but to this group, even late term abortions are really a personal decision, and not the government's, and certainly, the unborn child has no rights until it comes out of the hole - and maybe not even until the umbilical cord is cut.
This position seems to take personal autonomy to an extreme, while not safeguarding the rights of the weak. It certainly does not address the slippery slope contentions of euthanasia. I'm sure some will call this argument a straw man, but I don't mean it to be so. If most liberals don't hold this position, perhaps they fall into the moderate category.
But those in favor of starving Terry Schiavo to death certainly have forgotten about the "mercy" in "mercy killing." I mean, if she isn't suffering by starving, then she isn't suffering by living either, so why not let her parents care for her?