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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Terri Schiavo Case Should Be a Wake-up Call to All Who Value Life

If you are strongly pro-life, moderately pro-life, or even slightly pro-life, but you've been too apathetic to take an active stance for the cause of life, the Terri Schiavo case should be a major wake-up call.

In 1977, in an address entitled "The Slide to Auschwitz," given to the American Academy of Pediatrics, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D. stated that he saw "the progression from abortion to infanticide, to euthanasia, to the problems that developed in Nazi Germany..."

At the time of Dr. Koop's comments, the1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade was only four years old, and approximately 4 million legal abortions had been performed in the United States. Now, twenty-eight years later, over 45 million babies have been killed through legal abortion in the U.S.

The acceptance by society of the killing of unborn babies has had a tremendous impact on the deterioration of our view of the sanctity of life, and this lack of respect for life has not been limited to the unborn. In 1982, a baby known only as "Baby Doe" was born with Down's Syndrome in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to Down's Syndrome, Baby Doe was born with a connection between the esophagus and windpipe, which prevented food from reaching the stomach.

A routine operation could have corrected the problem involving the esophagus, but because the baby had Down's Syndrome, the parents refused to allow the operation, choosing instead to starve the baby to death, which the Supreme Court of Indiana ruled they had a right to do. Many families offered to adopt the baby; however, the parents refused, and the child died seven days after birth.

Now we have witnessed the starvation and dehydration death of Terri Schiavo. Terri was brain damaged; she was not brain dead. She was not on artificial live support; she needed only to be provided food and water. Terri's parents offered, in fact begged, to be allowed to care for their daughter. Her husband Michael refused, choosing instead to have the feeding tubes removed. The courts ruled that he had the right to do this, and 13 days later, Terri was dead.

Baby Doe and Terri Schiavo were both guilty only of being handicapped. They were living lives that someone decided were not worth living.

Compare these cases with pre-Nazi Germany. In 1920, well before the Nazis rose to power, German judge Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche wrote "The Release of the Destruction of Life Devoid of Value," a 60 page booklet which suggested that some lives were not worth living. Binding and Hoche justified euthanasia of "absolutely worthless human beings." Over time, the ideas presented by Binding and Hoche gained acceptance in German society.

That acceptance provided a convenient foundation for the Nazi euthanasia program known as "Aktion T-4." Implemented in 1939, the purpose of Aktion T-4 was to eliminate "the worthless lives of seriously ill mental patients." This program began with the euthanasia of children up to the age of three, but was quickly expanded to include physically and mentally handicapped older children and adults. These people, whose lives were considered to be "not worth living," were killed by starvation, lethal injection, and gas chamber. The gas chambers, of course, later played a huge role in the holocaust.

The Nazi holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. A culture of death had been developing in Germany for many years. Now, in the United States, we have heard President Bush talking for the past five years about fostering a "culture of life"; however, the sad truth is that for over thirty years we have been fostering a "culture of death" in this country. We have a legacy of forty-five million dead, aborted babies. The Schiavo case has been repeatedly referred to in the media as a "right to die" case, never a "right to live" case. We have seen pictures of our police force arresting those who have had enough compassion to try to bring Terri Schiavo a glass of water. We have seen our courts force two parents to stand by helplessly and watch their daughter be starved and dehydrated to death.

It is time for everyone who cares about life to wake-up, see what is going on, and become involved. The trend toward a culture of death can be reversed. Life can once again be honored and celebrated in the United States, but it will not happen if we sit idly by. As philosopher Edmund Burke once said, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Define artificial life support? Last time I checked it is being fed by any other means than by ones own will. This is exactly why more elderly are having DNR tatooed across their chest. Do Not Resuscitate. I believe life should should be based on quality not quantity. If for some unforseen reason I would be suffering like Terri, then I would want the same thing done to me. I would not want my family and friends to have to take on the burden that I had become.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Bryan Alexander said...

There are many people who are being fed through tubes who are clearly alive and aware. If feeding them is considered artificial life support, should we just stop feeding and let them all die? Whether you, I, or anyone else would want to live in that situation is irrelavant to this case. Terri Schiavo's wish was the only relavant wish, and the fact is that no one knows for certain what her wish was. Yes, her husband said that Terri did not want to live in that situation, but if you research the history of that case, the husband's credibility is highly suspect. I would argue that if we are going to err we should err on the side of life. Unfortunately, as a society we have fallen to a place where life is not valued as it once was. This is clearly seen, not only in 1.5 million abortions a year, infanticide, and euthanasia, but also in out of control murder rates on our streets.

As for becoming a burden on family and friends, Terri's parents were willing, if fact begged to be allowed, to care for her. She would not have been a burden to anyone else, yet her husband was determined that she die, and without any proof of Terri's wishes, our judicial system refused to protect her.

4:52 PM  

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