Marlowe's Shade

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Culture of Death Rewriting History

Of all the sites I was introduced to during the Blogburst for Terri, bLogicus is one of the best. Tim posted this article from the St Petersburg Times, a paper that was squarely in Michael Schiavo's camp.

Their argument is essentially that because God has a plan for every human life, individuals may not choose to cut short that plan, meaning every human must die a natural death. What I don't understand is how medications, feeding tubes, emergency operations and machines are considered in any way natural. And couldn't it be just as much "God's plan" for someone to die at a time of his choosing, surrounded by loved ones, than being stuffed with tubes and monitored by machines? Even the pope came home to die.

Under the Bush Justice Department - and former Attorney General John Ashcroft in particular - there has been a relentless drive to stop Oregon's program. Ashcroft is one of those true believers who wants to impose his religion on others through the law. In November 2001, he threatened Oregon physicians with the loss of their prescription-writing privileges if they provided pills to hasten a patient's death. The state challenged that action, and the case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the issue next term.

To me, there is only one legitimate concern in the right-to-die debate, and that is the possibility that severely disabled patients might feel societal pressure to end their lives prematurely. However, a look at Oregon allays much of those fears. In the seven years since the state has permitted physician-assisted suicide, only 208 people have taken the option. Numbers that small suggest that suicide is a rare choice and not something encouraged by a social norm.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who assisted more than 100 people in ending their lives on their own terms, lives out his days in a Michigan prison. His grandstanding tactics and arrogant demeanor condemned him as much as his actions. But Kevorkian had it right. Future generations will look upon his imprisonment the way we now view the Inquisition's indictment of Galileo or Margaret Sanger's troubles under the Comstock laws - a backward authority using its power to stall advancement.

I have no doubt that one day we will all be granted the dignity to make a choice about our own death. What doctors surreptitiously do to help a suffering patient bring about a quicker end will one day come out of the closet. Maybe all the attention given Terri Schiavo will make that happen a little sooner.

Robin Blumner's op-ed is a perfect example of moral relativism in the end of life debate. She casts opponents of right-to-die legislation (such as in Oregon) as trying to impose their morality on the majority. But anyone is free to bear the consequences of suicide (including the possibility that you might fail) and when it is considered illegal, by it's nature it is not a punishable crime. I challenge anyone to deny suicide is momentous act and make a case that another should share the responsibility for it.
Like many is the media she blurs the distinctions between voluntary denial of treatment with physician assisted suicide and then brings it up in context of Terri's case, which is an other matter entirely. Grave issues are treated so cavalierly in the current marketplace of ideas. And this idea of the majority supporting PAS or euthanasia is a glaring misrepresentation. But Ms. Blumner's canonization of Kervorkian and Sanger as martyrs in her secular distopia is more telling than any of her arguments. Whether she is aware of it or not, Ms. Blumner has sold out to the Culture of Death.
papijoe 6:18 AM