Marlowe's Shade

Friday, March 18, 2005

Blogburst for Terri: The "Baby Doe" Case

Joe Carter from Evangelical Outpost cites a case that occurred more than 20 years before Terri's.

Although Schiavo has been incapacitated for fifteen years, the circumstances of her death were forshadowed eight years before her collapse. In 1982, an infant, referred to as "Baby Doe", was born with Down Syndrome and esophageal atresia. A simple, relatively safe surgery could easily have rectified this child's esophagus problem, allowing the child to continue living. Both the parents and their physician, however, agreed that because of the potential "suffering" this child would endure, it would be better to forego surgery and allow the boy to die. Although the decision was challenged, it was upheld by the courts. Baby Doe suffered from starvation and thirst for six days before he finally died.

I don't know what those parents think about their decision now. Was Baby Doe their first child? Are they still together as a couple? Did they have other children who have now grown up? Of course we'll never know.

Our legal system has been allowing this for a long time. Joe Carter makes a strong case for civil disobedience:

The Bible tells us that God has ordained the state as delegated authority, authorized to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil, punish the wicked, and to protect its citizens. When it does the opposite it has ceased to have proper authority and becomes a lawless entity. It therefore not only becomes a right but a duty for Christians to resist such tyranny.

Joe's moral reasoning is sound. I have some trepidation that legalistic Christians will take this too far, and create another legal and perceptional backlash. But I fear the consequences of losing the battle for Terri even more.

Baby Doe was allowed to die and be forgotten. We need to exhaust every non-violent means to save her from an illegal judicial execution order if we are to save Terri from fate from which our system would protect a convicted murderer or dog.
papijoe 12:23 PM