I forgot I had written this, I can’t remember why I held it, but here is for consideration
It’s always one more thing, isn’t it? That is what is excellent in discussing things with others..it fills out the thinking. I thought a comment by Maxed Out Mama was so important that I wanted to post it here. We have our places of disagreement in this I think, but her points are important to consider.
I would like to point out one further ramification of your argument above. When we decide as a society that a court will exercise the right to decide whether a person “would have chosen” to starve to death we eradicate the choice permitted by right-to-die laws. The trend towards starving people to death has caused many to fill out paperwork saying they do wish to receive food and water. And now laws in many states allow medical bioethics committees to make the decision that feeding a person is “futile”, and the wishes of the person are not even a factor.
At least in the abortion debate we are not forcing someone to make this decision. At least in the abortion debate we maintain the possibility of making the choice on the individual level, although the life ended is not consulted. Those who are argue that a husband has the right to choose for his wife to be starved to death “since the medical bills are his” are certainly consistent with the abortion promoters. Many now believe that an inconvenient life may be ended by the one whom is inconvenienced.
Of course, there are additional burdens in a pregnancy, including a possible loss of life for the mother. But it is clear that the philosophy evolved to fit the majority of cases is now being applied more broadly across society.
We are veering ever closer to a de facto situation in which our official institutions are permitted to substitute their agenda for our individual moral choices. This is very far from “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” cited as a self-evident truth several centuries ago.
I support very strongly the right of individuals to refuse medical therapies including tube feeding (for both religious and moral reasons), but I am appalled at where such laws have led. Therefore I feel a moral responsibility to both support the right of the individual to make such a choice and actively campaign to deny the right of an institution to make such a choice for a person.
If we do not draw the line at starving people to death in medical institutions who have never recorded such a choice, where will we ever draw it? If we deny the right of a person to be spoon fed, what are we?
I personally take a firmer view concerning the abortion issue, though I am willing to concede the life of the mother as reason for abortion; not all would, I understand. But we have to understand that we must have firm ground to allow for termination of life…. this extends into the question of Capital Punishment. There are moral arguments on these matters, and it is no easy thing, seeing that we have widely varying bases for the thinking.
The problem to me is this:
I believe we have a broadbased shift in weighting the institution heavily against the individual in this country. It is not only a partisan shift.
I believe we should be careful lest we easily dismiss this point:”although the life ended is not consulted”. Isn’t that the whole point in speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves? Shouldn’t we value all those lives? Can we excuse the difficulties of the mother who wants to abort and not excuse those of someone like Michael Shiavo? There are ways to deal with the problems short of termination of life. It is a hard choice we are talking about – I make no bones about that.
Maybe there is something fundamentally wrong in “right to die”, perhaps we need to look at right to refuse medical help, instead. The definition is fine, perhaps too fine for some. We have endued ideals into the medical profession that is causing some of the foundations to crack from underneath us. We have personified and deified ‘Science’, and now we want to take back our choices from the institution.
That will cost us some things that we might have trouble giving up. Can we still demand, by jurist, that someone must have medical care?
We are in muddy waters now. I think what we must hold the line on is the sanctity of the life and the individual. I do not want to force my morals on others in my society…I really don’t. I do want an orderly, reasonable society. We have veered off that mark, and Terri Shiavo’s case is pointing that up; that is why I asked what will we do with this?
I’ve noticed much attention given to living wills due to the media attention to this case. I have written elsewhere that this is not enough. We have come to the place where we need advocates when we get into medical situations. We also need to get a handle on restoring rights to the individual and put some stops on judicial activism. These are problems that are entrenched, and have vested interests supporting their continuance.
Poor Terri, her parents and what has happened to her is affording the people of her country a call to conscience. It is reaching beyond that, and casting a light on practices in other Western countries.
We no longer wish the apple that we so blythely plucked from the tree. It is turned to wormwood within us.