Terri’s Wishes: Another Perspective

Mike Russell of Eternal
Perspectives
has some interesting views regarding the plight of
Terri Schiavo. They’re sort of an examination of conscience particular
to this context. Here are some highlights:

Terri

Schiavo: Maintaining Focus

It is a recurring nightmare:

Months or years from now, long after we have won the battle to keep
Terri alive, her painful and agonizingly slow therapy reaches the point
where she is finally able to think clearly and speak for herself. It is
a great day: all who have prayed for her and followed her dramatic,
near-tragic saga eagerly await her first words. And then they come:
“Why didn’t you let me die? Why have you made me endure this pain and
suffering? I wanted to die! I still want to die!”

Then I wake up.

….

I hope Terri has the chance someday to speak for herself. The idea that
her bottom-feeding husband has the right to murder her is comprehensible
only in a godless society such as ours…But then there’s my nightmare
ending. If that were to happen, then Terri would suddenly go from being
a cause in the eyes of Christians to being an enemy and someone to be
resisted. From darling to damned in a matter of minutes.

I have no reason to expect anything like this to happen….But the
Christian community must see past Terri and remain focused on the bigger
issue, which is that life is valuable and not to be dismissed casually.
Right now that principle has a face – a lovely, endearing face – but the
principle has been around long before Terri and will be around after
her, too. We are not fighting for a life but for life itself. Terri is
important because she has life; life is not important simply because it
happens to belong to her and is threatened at the present time. Terri’s
life is no more – or no less – important than the lives of the thousands
of children dying in the Sudan. Life is the issue.

Thinking

about Terri…

Without a doubt, I have read and blogged more about Terri than I have
prayed for her. I’ve spent hours doing the former and less than an hour
on the latter, but my total time of praying specifically for Terri is a
very small percentage of the total. What does that say about me and my
belief in the power of prayer? More importantly, what does it say about
how I view God?

Speaking only for myself, I wonder if my faith has been more in the
government and “good” elected officials or in God. If my faith is in
God, why did I feel so defeated when I read that the judge had been so
lacking in mercy?

Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup of suffering from Terri
Schiavo; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Comments 9

  1. theomorph wrote:

    Pulling the plug on Terri Schiavo will directly cause her death.

    Is it that clear? Plugging her in in the first place directly delayed her death, but is the cessation of efforts to delay death equal to causing death?

    If your efforts are keeping another person alive who could not otherwise life, and you cease those efforts, have you caused the death of that person? Or merely allowed other causes already in action to follow their course?

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 5:12 pm
  2. Tom Smith wrote:

    …on the same level as actual murderers.

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 4:45 pm
  3. Keith wrote:

    Advanced directive a nice phrase which means suicide and nothing more.

    We have no right to die, we have no right to take our own life.

    We may choose to take our life, we may choose to employee another to take our life for us, but rights come from God and Gid alone.

    God gave us not right to die.

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 6:20 am
  4. Tom Smith wrote:

    For the same reasons that I don’t think that abortion constitutes murder, I don’t think it stands to call the Schiavo case murder.

    Murder implies illegality, first off. Since those who wish to see her let go are working within the law, they aren’t murderers. Killers, maybe, but not murderers.

    Secondly, murder implies a malicious intent. Does Michael Schiavo really loathe his former wife, to the point of wanting to kill her? I don’t know; we really can’t judge that. I don’t think so. He feels her an inconvenience, obviously, but is that malice? Do those who support her euthanasia have malice towards Terri Schiavo? From the sheer number of those in this nation who’ve been fired up by this event, I’m sure there are those who favor her death sheerly for malice. But those that do probably aren’t the ones working directly to get her plug pulled.

    Pulling the plug on Terri Schiavo will directly cause her death. But causing death is not the same as murder. The equivocation that the use of the term “murder” causes, perhaps inadvertently, puts everyone who supports Terri Schiavo’s death

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 4:45 pm
  5. Tom Smith wrote:

    I’d say that when the feeding tube was emergency intervention, it wouldn’t’ve been causing her death to get rid of the tube; rather, it would’ve been only allowing her death.

    It strikes me that the feeding tube is no longer an emergency intervention, but has been established as a status quo (if you will); removing it would be causing her death. Just as denying food to a locked-away prisoner is killing, so it is in this case.

    (Just some thoughts. I could be persuaded otherwise.)

    Posted 24 Mar 2005 at 7:35 pm
  6. gbm3 wrote:

    I’m responding to the plea (this is my first post to any blog):
    “What say you, Christian readers of my blog?”

    My reply:

    His initial statement is false. In God?s infinite love and wisdom, he has given free will to the human race. The acts of suicide and murder are not wrong in so far as they take away God?s desires for the course of our life.

    Think of it in terms of macro and micro life management. God desires that we live out our lives in the pursuit of loving him and our world (agape love) in parallel with God and others loving us. How we fulfill this is up to us, with His grace and guidance, or by ourselves in rejecting Him.

    Murder and suicide are manifestations of rejected love. With faith and hope, love blossoms. Prayer, medicine, and other medical technologies give hope and manifest love from caregivers and others.

    As far as when medical means are futile, the RCC says that ordinary means should be maintained indefinitely, whereas extraordinary means are optional, i.e., feeding and providing water for someone versus employing an artificial breathing device.

    (Catechism of the Catholic Church Reference ( http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM ):

    Euthanasia

    2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

    2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons.
    It is morally unacceptable.

    Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
    The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

    2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment.
    Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.
    The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

    2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
    The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable
    Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity.
    As such it should be encouraged.)

    Posted 24 Mar 2005 at 8:20 pm
  7. theomorph wrote:

    If suicide or murder are wrong because they contravene God’s alleged desires for the course of a life, how can you not apply the same reasoning to technological attempts to extend a life in the face of otherwise insurmountable difficulties? I.e., if a person would die without medical intervention, how is medical intervention also not a contravention of God’s apparent desires? If “rights come from God and God alone,” then the right to live also comes from God and God alone, does it not? How does one ascertain when God has removed that right, beyond which point all human efforts to maintain life are in opposition to the will or desire of God?

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 2:41 pm
  8. theomorph wrote:

    Oops. Second paragraph, “life” should be “live.”

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 5:12 pm
  9. theomorph wrote:

    Still with the “murder” talk.

    How is it “murder” to cease the technological alteration of a course that would have naturally been death? Would it have still been “murder” if she had formulated an advance directive or living will twenty years ago and explicitly asked that a feeding tube or other life support be removed after medical hopelessness had been ascertained? Or would it be “suicide”? Would that be any better, from a religious standpoint?

    If we create medical technology that allows us to tinker with a person’s metabolism despite the body’s inability to sustain itself naturally, are we then obligated to use it? Can it be merely the prior decision of the individual in question (i.e., the presence or absence of an advance directive or living will) that creates the opportunity to commit murder, in which case the action of removing the feeding tube would be absolutely identical in either case except for the presence of a document? By introducing the concept of “murder” have we not backed ourselves into an ethical corner created not by any divine decree but by the vagaries of our own legal system? But if we are going to operate within the parameters of our legal system, why should we call it murder if that system does not call it murder?

    Posted 23 Mar 2005 at 6:13 am

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