Sunday, April 2, 2006

Terri Schiavo: A Catholic Contrarian Confesses

In the past year I have read a lot about Terri Shiavo in the Catholic blogosphere, and am acutely aware of the Church’s position about the removal of her feeding tube and subsequent death, and those of many great blogging minds. Now I wish to come clean:

I agreed with the removal of her feeding tube.

I remain greatly troubled by the fact that so many people in whom I hold great esteem remain steadfastly committed to their position that what occurred was nothing short of premeditated murder, and possibly torture. When so many great and decent people hold such strong views contrary to my own, my first, second and third inclination is to think that they are right and I am wrong. I ask myself “What am I missing here?” A year on, and the answer remains “I still don’t know. I don’t think I’m missing anything.”

Her autopsy found that most of Ms.Shiavo’s brain had turned to mush, and doctors described her particular vegetative state as unrecoverable (confirmed by autopsy), and “cruel” in that it allowed her to appear responsive to stimulus (light, touch) in a way that mimicked normal, human responses – thus allowing loved ones to more easily deceive themselves as to her prognosis.

Now her husband may or may not have been a class one prick, or even a killer or adulterer – I have no idea, and I’m not sure it mattered as far as Ms. Shiavo’s unrecoverable vegetative state was concerned. I am quite certain that I would never want to be nursed ad infinitum as a hooked-up cadaver, and frankly it seems hard to see the medical facts in her case as anything other than just that. As I wrote recently, medical science can now sustain life through extraordinary means almost indefinitely (and the “almost” is about to disappear), and this has very real repercussions for our society.

One outcome of this affair was that I signed a living will making it very clear that my plug is to be pulled, and my family is to move on; life is for the living, and it is already too short.

Terri Schiavo’s tombstone says she departed this Earth back in 1990 at the time of her original cardiac arrest. Honestly folks, that sounds about right to me. I think that despite mustering all of my cognitive abilities I was unable to come round to other’s way of thinking really sucks. Honestly, I do. If you think you can convince me otherwise, I promise to open my mind.

But don’t get your hopes up.

No comments:

Post a Comment