Sunday, April 10, 2005

I pronounce thee dead

All right. On the subject of ethics and judgment that I am now. (Honest, I am doing allthis without drinking. But I had this Cornetto...). Etc.

Now. Should Terry Schiavo have died? Allowed to die, i.e.?

Now what is it with cleansing that allows ideas and inspiration to awaken in the mind? I got an answer to this vital question, as I had to the issue of cryptography and language, while brushing my teeth one morning. It's time for me to harrass the occassional guest by installing a crazy note-filled writing pad on the washroom cabinet. (But first, a cabinet for the absent-minded girl!)

My fine conclusion was this: if Terry Schiavo's mind and heart (in that order) were not dependant on any artificial injection other than food, she must have been allowed to live. If, however, she was being sustained on machines which wer providing for other-than-food life support, without which her brain and heart would (instantly) die, then she was clinically dead and her life should not have been elongated artificially.

This is my general opinion on any similar case of coma, vegetation, etc.

In cases of extremely elongated coma (NOT clinical dead persons sustained by artificial means), a council must decide the chances of recovery of the patient. Given that there are no foreseeable chances, the patient may be euthanised. However in the case of coma, I would more often favor life. There are clear cases of complete vegetation and artifically sustained life where it is easy to decide pro-choice/death.

Sadly but truly, it is often times the decision between resources spent on a recverable patient and someone beyond reasonale hope. I am a person of faith, I will assert, but not of unreasonability. This is my cold opinion.


  1. One responsibility of being sentient beings is preserving life around us and not destroying it needlessly, not even an insect.

    I believe that she should have been allowed to live for a very simple reason: we don't have the right to choose who lives and who dies in such cases. As long as we have the means to sustain a life then we must.

    Maybe by some freak of chance, supposing she had come out of her coma, or "vegetative state" someday? But now we'll never know, will we? And if this case might have been true then the decision makers who pulled her life-line have committed involuntary murder.

    For the naysayers, the business of saving and preserving life is not one that is based on the odds. When you're saving a life, you don't count the odds -- you just give it your best shot.

    Think of it this way: think of someone you love very much dying. Now think of someone telling you about the odds of that person surviving not being favorable. On one hand you do have the means to grant that person life on borrowed time in the hope that she or he might recover, while on the other hand the odds based on known science are against that happening. Now which option will you pick? I rest my case.

  2. Re: Stargazer

    Where your opinion about Schiavo and euthanasia is your own and I differ from it, I will not comment on it first. However, I will question whether contriving a situation with one's own emotional involvement should justify our outlook on that situation?

    Let me ask: if one's mother has committed a murder, would s/he want the mother to be hanged?

    A negative answer should not affect the (reasonable) law.

    Anyway back to life and euthanasia, I do favor life until it is clear that life is being artificially created for a badly injured body/ vegetable. I am particularly concerned about victims of violent accidents who are beyond recovery and are sustained artificially. Esp the so-called "brain dead" people.

    In those cases, however, where the person appears to have retarded, detached from reality, or in an affected state of mind, a council is often not the solution. Life must prevail. The council solution is only for the poorly injured who are beyond recovery given the prevalent and upcoming medical er,... resources (what's the right word?).

  3. P.S. In Schiavo's particular case, it must have been the parents who should have decided. It is another matter whether the parents should have gone pro-choice, or the society/ law forced them to euthanise their daughter. But it should not have been for the husband to decide, even though after marriage, you are technically your spouse's family, not your parents'. A husband deciding the fate of a wife vegetating for fifteen(?) years is the most uncomfortable thing with this case. In a matter of life or death, it must have been the closest blood relations of the woman who should have decided. Perhaps if they always had that freedom, they might have decided to euthanize their daughter themselves. Just a thought.

  4. "I do favor life until it is clear that life is being artificially created"... that's what my whole argument is about.

    I agree with you in principle. You are right in thinking this way. As a matter of fact, I think the same way too despite my homily about T.S.

    The only problem is that the whole domain and concept of "life" itself is simply beyond our grasp, comprehension and control. In your statement, the phrase "...until it is clear..." is the gray zone because when we define matters of life and death as being clear or not clear, we're taking an educated guess at best. There is never any certainty in such an assumption and that was the basis for my entire statement. In the absence of such surity, morally and ethically you are treading a fine line between well-determined mercy...and involuntary murder. In your opinion you think you know where you stand but that's an illusion.

    This is a crude analogy but what we're doing is thematically similar to the witch executions of centuries ago when "witches" were burnt at the stakes. The incarcerators thought they were doing a service to society and delivering salvation to the souls of the damned. But now we know better, don't we?

    In the case of the example of one's mother committing murder, that is a different ballgame altogether. There you're talking about enacting justice in response to a crime, not debating whether to save a life that defies the chances of being saved because of injury.

    My stand is that I support the statement that "violent accidents who are beyond recovery and are sustained artificially" with no possibility of survival should be eased of their agony. But at present and maybe never shall we have the power to know for sure whether they will survive or not. If we take such matters of life and death into our own hands, mark my words, it will set dangerous precedents in the days to come and have profound consequences. We're not yet ready to assume such Godly powers to decide who lives and who dies.

    And yes, I agree the parents should have been the ones to make the decision. Spouses come and go but parents are unique.