Monday, April 04, 2005

WE SHOULD BE SURE

Terri Schiavo’s death hit me harder than I thought it would. I had followed the story for years and thought I had come to terms with the issues and knew what I thought about them. By the time I heard she had finally died, I no longer felt so certain of my views. Now I am sure I am certain of nothing about it at all.

At first I was convinced that only her husband had the right to make decisions for her. I suppose I came to this conclusion because I would want my wife making the decisions for me if I could not make them for myself. I would not want others trying to interfere with my wife. I felt very sure of this.

Also, I was confident that I would not want to live in a persistent vegetative state with strangers handling my body like it was a sack of potatoes. My own certainty on this matter made me convinced that Terri would not either. Of course like most other people with opinions on this, I had never even laid eyes on Terri in person much less heard her state her wishes about the matter.

Too, I was convinced that she would feel no pain as she died because she had so much brain damage that she was unaware of herself and her surroundings. Then a single phrase in Time magazine stopped me dead in my tracks. To the question “Does a person in a vegetative state suffer after nutrition and hydration have been withdrawn? No one knows for certain, of course, what it feels like to be unaware__” (Time, April 4, 2005)

Yes, no one knows for sure. Not me. Not you. Not the medical experts. How could I have been so sure of something no one could be sure of? That is the question we all should be answering.

This is what I think I know. We should always err on the side of life. My wife tried to make me understand this each time we discussed it. I was trying to make big philosophical points like how to determine when a person was dead. My wife was trying to make the point that life was too important not to be sure. We should be sure.


Ed


You can reach me directly at eecoop_2000@yahoo.com

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