“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What to make of current events

I must admit that the recent events regarding taking the life of a severely disabled person concern me. However, it isn't just the events regarding the woman in Florida, it is also the discussion which surrounds her life and the battles of those around her. For example, this morning a bioethicist spoke of how the practice of removing a feeding tube occurred commonly across the country. He specifically referenced it happening to aborted infants who were born alive and children born with down syndrome. If you recall, the starving of children with down syndrome was an issue during the Reagan administration with the whole baby doe affair. I am aghast to think that our medical profession does such things.

Now I recognize that people should have a right to determine whether or not extensive efforts should be made to keep someone alive, particularly someone who has specifically requested that such efforts should not be used. However, feeding someone has now become included in extensive efforts. People are also permitted to make decision about others by caviat, without any documented permission given.

When people have lived life without the experience of the differences referred to as disability, they think they know how they would respond should they at some point experience disability. However, that is like trying to think about what it would be like to be a cat when you have been a dog all of your life. You think you know what you would do as a cat, but you really don't know, and you may find that your will to live as a cat is much more than you ever expected when you were still a dog.

Another concern to me is where these decisions about the life of another will go. If I have a severe disability, do I have a poor quality of life when the quality of life I have is the only one I have ever known? Can I look at a person in desperate poverty and say that they have a poor quality of life? Can I look at a person with down syndrome and say they have a poor quality of life? I have gone out of my way to ask quality of life questions to persons with disability, and almost without fail the response is that they feel they have a good quality of life. I have also at other times in this blog referred to the interview Christopher Nance did with Ray Charles. Nance asked, "What is it like to be blind?" Charles' wise response was, "What is it like to not be blind?" Quality of life is in the eye of the person having the life experience. . .not those observing the person.

We must be very careful about projecting our perspectives of poor life quality on others who may not agree with our point of view, or may agree at one point and not at another. Joni Eareckson relates the story of how she would have said that she wouldn't have wanted to live with the differences she now faces prior to the accident that changed her. However, now having become accustomed to her life, she feels she has a good quality of life.

So, although I don't want to get into people's business when such decisions are on the line, I am very worried that our laws allow for starving another to death on the basis of subjective notions of disability and quality of life. Persons with severe disability are easy targets.



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Diane Walker
EDU 541 (W 4:30-7:00)
4-13-05 (2:50 pm)
Bravo!! Thank you for your honest and accurate opinions in regards to the article, I don’t need you. Even though our society has more opportunities to become better informed and educated on topics (the internet, news, professional articles etc…) we still thrive on what popular culture has deemed “good or poor quality of life”. Instead we as individuals need to reach beyond our own experiences and view life as multidimensional. What one person perceives as disadvantaged quality of life can be challenged by another who feels he/she has every opportunity in life and is happy to experience life, regardless of differences/similarities they have compared to others.
We as a society need to recognize that life is not to be toyed with for political or monetary gains. Terry Schaivo is a woman who has been denied the right to chose what she wants for her life. Instead her case has turned into the rights of her husband and her parents to control what is “best” for her. Additionally, I think it is insane that our government can tell people how they should end their life. If one has chosen to end their life and has provided the necessary documentation to support this decision that is their right. Instead the government punishes those individuals who assist people who have decided to end their lives for various reasons. But this is also the government who allows another to die by removing life support system if they (government/families) deemed okay. Once again this is denying one’s right to choice.

Anonymous said...

In “What to make of current events," you stated many good thoughts about the subject of what is good quality of life and how to act in regards to events that have brought this question back onto a national standpoint. Honestly, who can ever say if someone’s life is not of good quality? All of us were created by God for a specific purpose, and wouldn’t you think that everyone has a good quality of life because we were created in His image for His will. I believe that everyone has quality of life and a purpose, but questions have always arisen that pinpoints what we should do in extreme cases when life is at stake.
In Terry Schiavo’s case, I cannot comment on whether it was right or not because I do not know the in depth circumstances that are evident to her case. All I can say is that if Terry specifically told her husband that she didn’t want to suffer in a situation like that, then I feel that his actions were justified. It is no different than my cousin having to pull the plug on her father when he suffered a brain aneurism and was in a vegetative state. She knew he didn’t want to suffer and respected his wishes, and he died within a half and hour.
I think these situations just depend on what the person wants and who will make those decisions in that extreme case. We cant really comment on whether someone’s choice is right or wrong if we do not know the entire events surrounding them. We cant get inside someone’s head and heart, instead we should look at it from the standpoint that every life has quality because God created us and pray that we never have to be in a situation where we would have to make a decision whether to pull the plug or remove a feeding tube.

Anonymous said...

Taking a person life a making a decisions on a person life seems to me unconstitutional or better yet immoral. I do agree, who is to say that person is miserable living that way. Yet if a person does have documentation he/she would like to not have extensive efforts or if they reach a certain stage in life to die. This is valid because they have actual documentation. Hypothetically if a person has a verbal argument with someone else, this should not be valid.
It is not someone else choice whether we live or die it is God’s choice only. If we make choices for other human life, we are trying to play GOD! This goes for abortions as well. The baby was created by God. Man wants to destroy his creation! How could one take a human life when it has not begun? Does that person stop and think, if their mom thought the same way they did, they would not be born.
The laws are being critiqued in its own wordage in favor of these unmoral dilemmas, much like your response on The Log In My Own Eye (Wednesday, April 20, 2005). People are becoming a bunch of scheming swindlers on manipulating what is best for them. Much like people manipulate the words in the bible, “What best for them or justifiable”.
We must all remember that we are all God’s creation. We must not destroy Gods creation. We are not to make decision for one another, only God. Only he is to decide when it is time.

Jason Jimenez
EDU 541