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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Terri Schiavo in Reverse

In England, a man named Leslie Burke, is suing the government to ensure that they will not withhold food and water should he need it administered through a tube. Did you catch that? This man is concerned that his doctors will dehydrate him against his wishes. You see, the government's point is that it is just too doggone expensive to keep all these hopeless patients alive. Mr. Burke is currently able to feed himself, but his health condition is such that he may well need a feeding tube. And he is afraid the tax-supported National Health Service will kill him. I wonder what would have ever given him that idea. The terrifying thing is that the British government is fighting him over this. Apparantly, they would like to reserve the right to starve him to death - against his wishes - if he becomes a burden on the taxpayers.

Michael Schiavo argued for the right to murder his wife and it was granted. He wanted Terri to have the "right" to die. Well, what many Americans refuse to see is that the line between "right" to die and "duty" to die is imperceptibly fine. Today, we say we want to kill the hopeless cases for their own good. Tomorrow, we will say we want to kill the hopeless cases for OUR own good.

Read the article here. Thanks to Michelle Malkin for pointing this story out.

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John H said...

This case leaves me uneasy, but it is more complex, and less worrying, than the Terri Schiavo case.

First, it is the General Medical Council (the self-regulatory body or doctors) rather than the government which is bringing this claim.

Second, the GMC's argument is not that the doctors should have the right to starve Mr Burke - as I recall, they are saying he has misinterpreted the guidance, that there would be no question of his being treated in the way he fears.

So the GMC's argument is that overturning its guidance to doctors is unnecessary, makes the legal position of doctors more unclear, and undermines their professional judgment.

I do hope that Mr Burke wins, but even if he loses this is not a Terri Schiavo situation and doesn't *necessarily* imply that the wedge is being driven in any further than it is already (admittedly we are already well past the thin end over here).

Paul said...

Because killing someone against their will is wrong, doesn't mean that keeping someone alive against their will is right.

If you think our health care sysem is working, you're either naive, in good health, wealthy, or some combination of the above. You may - or may not - want to look at

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I'm not in favor of extraordinary "heroic" measures. At the same time, life is a gift from God and one does not have the right to die simply because one wants to.

Becca said...

placing these two stories side by side forces serious thought ... and I like your conclusions.

: JustaDog said...

Michael Schiavo argued for the right to murder his wife - perhaps you didn't hear the results of the autopsy:

Extremists claimed she would talk with her eyes that she wanted to life - in reality, she was blind - that's a fact;

Extremists claimed she should go to her parents so she could have treatment, that she might recover - in reality, had massive and irreversible brain damage - that's a fact;

Extremists claimed her husband abused her before her injury - in reality, the medical examiner found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused - that's a fact;

Extremists stuck their noses into personal spaces where they didn't belong. No one knows a spouse better than the other spouse - except for the minds of extremists. I'm sure not one will apologize to Terri's husband, not one blog that verbally assulted that poor man will recant their evil words - how righteous they are.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Becca, thanks. I checked out your blog. Good stuff. Keep blogging.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...


Sure I heard the results, but it changes nothing. What we "learned" was that Terri had severe and irreversible brain damage. I never contested that. I simply deny that spouses have the right to kill one another when they become sick, injured, or brain damaged. I also deny that any man or woman has the right to die because they wouldn't want to live a certain way. Suicide (self-murder) is morally wrong. Assisted suicide is murder.

As I've stated, I'm not in favor of extraordinary or "heroic" measures. But in this case, food and water certainly don't seem extraordinary. The woman's brain was damaged. She wasn't brain dead. Terri's parents and brother spent time with her everyday. If they tell me she was responsive to them, why would I doubt their word? They wanted to take care of her, so she really wasn't a burden to her husband... not that that should matter.

Darin said...

And as soon as I believe that the medical profession isn't a part of a political body that was going to prefer a certain outcome in the autopsy, I will believe it hook, line, and sinker--and THAT's a fact. I predicted that this would be the result of the autopsy the day she died. When you decide to make political rather than medical decisions, nothing you say is beyond criticism.

Paul said...

Pastor Scott: but I didn't say anything about a right to die "because one wants to." This would mean, for example, encouraging depressed people to kill themselves, which none of us would even think of.

What I said was: Because killing someone against their will is wrong, doesn't mean that keeping someone alive against their will is right. Terry's husband was in the best position to have an idea of what her will was. That's what the courts thought. It also would go with our common experience of the world. If we're adults, it's typically our spouses who are most privy to our thoughts.

Why don't conservative Christians have the kind of zeal for, say, the world's poor, who die every day from preventable diseases, as they do for the "right to life" of people who are in a gray area re. whether they're people? The brain dead, the newly conceived etc.

What's up with that? Is it that anything resembling a helpless baby, or holding the potential to turn into a helpless baby, tugs at the heart strings more than people who are indisputably multicellular, brain-functional human beings who are unecessarly suffering? I've never understood the conservative priorities. You can say you care about the poor and oppressed, and I'm sure you do, but why not the same level of zeal and outrage?

Anonymous said...

We live in an age of irony, don't we? You can hardly tune in to one of the early morning talk shows (pick a network) and not hear someone telling us how we can
live longer by doing....The almost
constant refrain revolves around fear of death and yet, they have no problem with a woman being put to death because "she's brain dead anyway!"
Jesus said, "I have come to give life and give it abundantly". I can
only hope that Terri now has THAT

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