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Monday, March 21, 2005

Smart things other people say

Mastodon City is going to town over Congress deciding that Terry Schiavo should continue to live, and man those boys have tasty brains when it comes to debating the role of government in private life and the political implications of this issue. See Example A, Example B, Example C, and Example D.

In addressing the cause of this whole kerfuffle, my buddy Jood posted a link to the Advance Directive Forms website. If you're like me, and the thought of you or your family being put through what Terry Schiavo and her family are going through makes your skin crawl and your eyes tear up, you know what to do.

I'm actually more conservative on this issue than most, though, mainly because a week of slow starvation sounds like the least merciful death I could come up with, and I can totally understand her parents not being comfortable with that, ESPECIALLY if there's no clear documentation of her needs (please, see above). If this woman has to die, I don't personally think the feeding tube shut-off is okay. Not that my opinion means anything to the people in her life -- and not that it SHOULD. I'm just saying.

And, as a result of all this, I've been mentally debating the morality of shutting off the feeding tube vs. direct euthanasia. Because the act of shutting the machines down is deliberate, an act that will end her life -- so what's the difference between that and an injection that will bring her a much more peaceful and quick death? In a moral sense, that is. After all, the intention of the action isn't different. One is simply more proactive than the other. And maybe that's the sticking point. But I wonder if people would react differently if that was the issue -- living off machine, or quick painless death (not a long drawn-out one).

This is all beyond the political football that has now completely consumed this woman's life. But I'm still interested. Because we've got such marvelous machines these days. It's hard to imagine that they won't directly affect all our lives at some point. Hopefully, though, not like this. Nothing like it.

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