Two or Three (.net)

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More conflicting thoughts on the Schiavo case

by Aaron Earls [+/-] show/hide

Since my post yesterday I have had a few more conflicting thoughts on the issue. So here is two totally different ways to look at the situation.

Thought 1 - This in some ways demonstrates our nation's support of marriage through it's laws.
Our nation values marriage so much that it considers couples who marry to no longer be two people but one, as the image portrayed in the Bible. One can argue how much of a husband Michael has been through this whole situation, but he is still legally her husband. Because of that marriage bond, he is given rights to speak on behalf of Terri in the event that she cannot.

If we did not value marriage or thought little of it, then it would make it easier for the parents to make a claim, but the foundational laws of the country exalt the marriage vows and relationship. Even though the institution has been degraded through the years through divorce, even worse no fault divorce and currently the attempts to redefine marriage, despite all that marriage is still viewed as the supreme relationship that garners more rights than any other relationship.

Joe at Evangelical Outpost has some different thoughts on marriage in the light of the Schiavo case.

Thought 2 - It is a dangerous precedent to argue against Terri Schiavo because of her quality of life.
The thoughts posed by Michelle Catalano and other bloggers that "laying in a vegetative state for fifteen years is not living at all" sets a very dangerous precedent. [Let me first say, that I have nothing against Michelle personally. I think she is a very talented writer. I agree with her on some things and I disagree with her on some things. This is not an attack at her personally.]

When we establish a certain criteria for living we engage in a very tricky issue. How do we determine exactly where that line is and when we crossed it? Many argue that Terri really "died 15 years ago" or that her life right now "is not worth living." Again, how can we make that judgment for that person and tell them that their life is not worth living?

I'm sure people will scream "slippery slope! slippery slope!" but you cannot evaluate decisions without taking into account the future implications of that choice. If we allow Terri to be starved to death, what type of precedent does that set for future decisions? More questions will be raised and with no definitive answers to establish the correct course of action, we have set our nation up for an all out assault on those who cannot speak for themselves.

What is to stop a husband or a wife that has a spouse in a comma to have them taken off feeding tube or other assistance? When we are allowed to move the line that establishes life to one that is determined by "quality" of life, we begin to see different meanings for quality. One person's quality life is not the same as someone else's, who's right in that circumstance?

That is why life should simply be regarded as life, with no variations or degrees of good life. It brings to mind someone saying they are only "kinda dead." There is no kinda dead or kinda alive. You are one or the other. If you want to wander into the realm of nuance then we can discuss ventilators and other life support means that perform necessary bodily functions over extended periods of time with no possibility of that person every getting off of those machines. But this is not that type of case. Terri can be trained to eat, which would remove her from every type of "life support." Would it still be okay to starve her because she can't feed herself? This is not to mention the implications for Alzheimer's and other mentally depleting illnesses. How do we treat them? Where is there line to cross where it is okay to kill them because there life is no longer "quality?"

As I keep coming back to with this issue, it raises more questions than answers and often more heat than light. All I know to do is pray for all the individuals involved and pray that God's will is accomplished and He is glorified.

Update on the State's Rights side: Many more qualified thinkers have discussed the federalism questions. Hugh Hewitt, Mark Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru have all said there is no problem Constitutionally with what Congress did. [Scroll down on the Corner links for more quality thoughts on the issue.] I respect their opinions and hope they are right, but as I said yesterday, I can't help but think we are in a lose-lose situation now.

Stones Cry Out raises this interesting question: "Does anyone else find it interesting that Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, overwhelmingly come down on the side of both life and intervention, while non-religious conservatives are more concerned with the issue of Congress' work?" For the most part, I find that statement to hold up, but there is one irreligious conservative blogger that has been very passionate about this issue.

Update: Charles Krauthammer says we are caught between a travesty and a tragedy. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the issues that we facing.


  • Good post, Aaron! I'd agree with Joe's post on Evangelical Outpost, too, for the most part. I think "no-fault" divorce has has quite a detrimental effecton our society & has served to help the homosexual "marriage" cause quite a bit. But I disagree with your first thought that Terri's situation somehow shows a support for marriage. Frankly, there's simple way too much disinformation in the MSM currently re: Terri's "husband" Michael & his adulterous relationship with Ms Centonze; not to mention too much acceptance of such behavior! How can he possibly be a true husband to Terri when he's been living with another woman for 10 years & has 2 kids to support?! To me, it shows Michael was not committed to the worse part of the "for better or for worse" vow he took when he married Terri!

    But I'm in agreement with your second thought! I'm not thinking with my emotions but rationally from the point of view that human life is sacred & that all men & women are made in the image & likeness of God, endowed with an eternal soul, & that each should be - yes, even in our so-called "secular" society - treated with the respect & dignity due us all in light of these facts. As was pointed out on Amy Welborn's blog, what's the difference between Terri & a brain-damaged 6-month old? Do not both demand care & sustenance? Is Terri deserving of such a cruel & painful death by virtue of the fact that she's 41 & has spent 15 years of her life in this condition? The ancient Romans bound the feet of those less desireable to their society & left them in a far-off field to die alone, exposed to the elements & predatory animals. Have we, as a society, descended so far into depravity that we're practically the same, except we put folks in a nice, clean clinical facility & keep telling ourselves we've done all we can do & that such a death as is faced by Terri is "merciful"? Sorry, I don't buy it. I've heard all the arguements about why she should be starved in this manner & I simply don't buy it. Some folks call it "compassion" - but they forget that the word comes from the Latin meaning "to suffer with."

    The loss of the Hippocratic oath was a serious blow to the medical profession & a disservice to those of us who are potential patients. Health care providers exist to preserve life & do so humanely, but that is not to say they should unnecessarily prolong death. If a person is in the end stages of a terminal disease, & they choose to stop all care except the palliative, then that's OK, but it's their decision & not the physician's. Even then, sustenance - basic nutrition - should be provided until natural death. Up to this point, no one has been able to explain to me why a woman who is breathing on her own & has loving parents who desire to care for her at their expense should be starved to death. I see no mercy or compassion here. Speaking rationally, I see cruelty & malice.

    By Anonymous Gene Branaman, at 3/23/2005 9:42 PM  

  • Gene thanks for the comment. I must make clear that I am not saying Michael's position has helped marriage. I think as you say he is totally forgetting the worse part of the better or worse.

    My point was that the courts and the laws seem to set marriage up on a pedestal that makes it very hard for other family members to circumvent that. This is a good thing. It works out bad for Terri, since she has a husband in name only. But it does show the laws respect for the marriage vow, despite constant denegration through divorce and redefining the institution.

    But again thanks for the comment. Stop by often!

    By Blogger Aaron, at 3/24/2005 8:09 AM  

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