Saturday, March 26, 2005

And not to yield.

From More On Schiavo, Rich Lowry, The Corner, referencing an article in Slate:

A very compelling piece in Slate, by a disability-rights lawyer named Harriet McBryde Johnson--although reading good cases for keeping her alive just makes what's happening all the sadder. I was struck in particular by the argument in these two points (she makes ten all told):
4. There is a genuine dispute as to Ms. Schiavo's awareness and consciousness. But if we assume that those who would authorize her death are correct, Ms. Schiavo is completely unaware of her situation and therefore incapable of suffering physically or emotionally. Her death thus can't be justified for relieving her suffering. (emphasis mine)

5. There is a genuine dispute as to what Ms. Schiavo believed and expressed about life with severe disability before she herself became incapacitated; certainly, she never stated her preferences in an advance directive like a living will. If we assume that Ms. Schiavo is aware and conscious, it is possible that, like most people who live with severe disability for as long as she has, she has abandoned her preconceived fears of the life she is now living. We have no idea whether she wishes to be bound by things she might have said when she was living a very different life. If we assume she is unaware and unconscious, we can't justify her death as her preference. She has no preference.

Paragraph 5, though well reasoned, remains speculative. I intend no slander saying that. But her previous point lays quite bare some of the motive and reasoning of the pull-the-tube people. That is a false compassion, wanting to be rid of what make us uneasy, a human being in a state of terrible physical difficulty, reveals all our own shortcomings as human beings. We must be merciful with ourselves; difficult speech and painful bodily distortions distress us all. We dare not fall for the seductive remedy, easing our own discomfort by dealing in death; Love is the palliative. Though all fall short, yet we must not cease the attempt.

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