Monday, April 04, 2005


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 To the question “Does a person in a vegetative state suffer after nutrition and hydration have been withdrawn?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.


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