Reposted this date due to numerous requests:
Suppose you are alive, but paralysed. Your mind seems to be in working order, but you can’t say much. You’re happy to see your family who come to visit you all the time, and you do make every effort you can to respond to your surroundings. You enjoy the sunshine in the morning, when your nurses open the curtains, and you like the sound of rain falling upon the window, and at night, you can see the moon travel across the sky, as you watch and wonder. You like to blow kisses and receive them.
Some would say you don’t have much of a life. Others would say, well, maybe not…but it is the life you HAVE, and it is your own, and the YOU that exists within that limited life is still the essential YOU, the absolute YOU…the YOU that God loved into being. You’re still there. You’re just not quite able to come out, all the way.
Now… suppose your husband, who once vowed to be faithful through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, has decided it’s all too much for him – that he wants a life outside of what he can have with you. Hey, he’s only human, who could gainsay it? He’s now got a live-in lover and a couple of kids, and he wants an unencumbered life – he wants the life he wants.
And he has decided that even though he has the life he wants, it would be wrong to simply divorce you and go on with his new life. No…he thinks that even though you are not actually dying…you probably should die. Your death, you see, would be a better and more compassionate thing than your being allowed to continue living…even though your family is more than willing to see you through to the end of your life.
Since you are not on a respirator that could simply be removed, and you do not have a fatal disease that will eventually take your life, since, as I say, you are not actually dying…a decision has to be made as to just how your life may be effectively ended.
So, your husband is working to have your feeding stopped, so that you can starve to death. You can lie in your bed and feel increasingly hungry and thirsty and weak. You can feel abandoned. You can feel the utter cruelty of unnecessary, willfull deprivation, for it is not as if you are on a deserted island somewhere, utterly alone and without aid or companionship, where your paralysis assists in your natural demise…no, you’re in a civilized country in which the means to help you stay alive are quite available…only withheld. Because your life isn’t meaningful enough.
You are not regarded, by many, as a creature capable of comprehension and understanding. However, in your agony of starvation, you will be be permitted to understand that your life is unimportant. You’ll be allowed to understand that your death is desirable.
But since you won’t be able to express yourself, or rail against those feelings, or beg for mercy…you will have to simply endure the helpless stares of your family and friends, as they watch you hunger and thirst, unable – by law – to respond to your dire circumstances.
Imagine your name is Terri Schiavo. And this is your life. And you may begin to die on February 22, 2005.
And right now, they are working together to try to save the life of Terri Schiavo and – in doing so – perhaps save the life of your husband or wife, or daughter or son, should they ever be in a situation where they’re-not-dying-but-others-sure-wish-they-would. Greg, at What Attitude Problem has testimonial excerpts from Fr. Frank Pavone, has visited Terri. The indefagitable LaShawn Barber says: “Bloggers caused enough ruckus to topple someone in Big Media, so let’s see what we can do to save a life.”
If you have a blog, write about Terri Schavo, and direct people here. And urge action. Urge your readers to call their local media, their congressional rep, their senators. Write to editors of newspapers demanding another look into this issue. If enough people make noise, Terri’s feeding will not be allowed to quiety be discontinued.
Remember what Schindler’s assistant told him as he was compiling lists of Jews to save from the trains heading into Auschwitz: Who saves a life, saves the world, entire. And saving Terri’s life may keep our nation and our culture from slip-sliding into a dark and irredeemable place.
UPDATE: For a better understand of what Terri’s physical state is, please go here. Dory at Wittenberg Gate has more.
Lest I be accused again of “playing the heartstrings”, let me say that having had a family member, severely brain-damaged after a stroke, who nevertheless defied many “experts” predictions, the one think I do know is that we don’t know everything, particularly when it’s about the inner workings of the human mind and soul. As quoted in the above-referenced site: “Terri’s behavior does not meet the medical or statutory definition of persistent vegetative state. Terri responds to stimuli, tries to communicate verbally, follows limited commands, laughs or cries in interaction with loved ones, physically distances herself from irritating or painful stimulation and watches loved ones as they move around her. None of these behaviors are simple reflexes and are, instead, voluntary and cognitive. Though Terri has limitations, she does interact purposefully with her environment.”
It seems to me this woman would understand that she was in fact, starving and thirsting to her death. And to me that seems unspeakably cruel.