EDITORIAL & OPINIONS
The law's role in life and death
On the orders of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a feeding tube
was recently re-inserted into Terri Schiavo, a woman who has
been in a persistent vegetative state since a heart attack
Ms. Schiavo's husband, Michael Schiavo, won a court battle
about a week ago to have the feeding tube removed, against
the wishes of her parents. Mr. Schiavo said his wife would
never have wanted to be kept alive artificially and that he
is simply fulfilling her wish.
In a 1990 United States Supreme Court decision, if "clear
and convincing evidence" proved a person rendered comatose
would choose to die (for example, explicitly stated in a will),
then steps could be taken to act on that wish. In this case,
no evidence exists, which is why this disagreement over Ms.
Schiavo's life is breaking new legal ground.
But this is an especially tragic situation given the ludicrous
amount of political and judicial interference and inescapable
influences Ms. Schiavo would surely want to do without.
Assisted suicide - and individual suicide, for that matter
- should not be a legal concern. It's as if the courts were
given the ability to tell an individual how to eat their cereal;
they simply have no place.
Death is an intensely personal matter. But where circumstances
dictate the involvement of others, death becomes a shared responsibility,
where emotions can cloud reasonable judgment.
I am not advocating the elimination of emotions in such situations
(they're impossible to get rid of anyway), but instead asking
for all parties involved to look at whose interests are the
most important. Of course, the interests of the victim, in
this case Ms. Schiavo, are always paramount.
Not to be presumptuous, but such a situation in which Ms.
Schiavo cannot eat, walk, talk or do anything for herself,
is surely intolerable, especially given she has been subjected
to this torture for well over a decade.
But, for the sake of argument, say Ms. Schiavo is inwardly
content and perhaps even happy and only outwardly displays
a tormented persona. Her inability to personally progress or
interact with the outside world would be an increasingly difficult
burden to live with, especially seeing how she is surrounded
by a loving family. Not being able to express love to your
family and friends is a condition no one should be afflicted
with. Death can indeed be a saviour.
The argument is often made that it is morally wrong to deny
someone life. But it then holds true it is equally inhuman
to deny someone death. This is exactly what's happening in
Florida and elsewhere around the world where the medical technology
exists to prolong a diseased life.
The law does not necessarily need changing; we do.