Unwitting disciples of death

David Limbaugh

3/29/2005 12:00:00 AM - David Limbaugh

There is a perverted, sinister sickness in Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, glamorizing Terri Schiavo's death, saying she looks "beautiful" and is "resting comfortably."

Felos' statement is presumptuous, extraordinarily insensitive and powerfully offensive, especially in view of the contrary accounts of Terri's family and their lawyers. They say she is emaciated, her eyes are sunken, her skin is flaking, she's bleeding from the eyes and mouth, and she's desperately trying to cry out for help.

Terri's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, said, "It's like someone who is coming out of a bunker in Auschwitz." Brother Bobby Schindler said, "This is heinous what's happening, absolutely heinous -- this is absolutely barbaric. If she is in fact dying so peacefully and easily, why not allow a camera in there to videotape it?"

I offer Felos' gratuitous observation as Exhibit A to the assertion others and I have made that there is an element in our society that doesn't just want to promote so-called privacy, but affirmatively pushes the "death option." There is just something eerily repugnant in Felos' glow about Terri's plight.

I realize that many, including some who believe Terri's life ought to be spared, believe this "pro-death" characterization is over the top, but all things considered, I truly don't.

Of course I'm not saying that everyone who believes Terri's feeding tube ought not to be restored are death-worshippers. I'm not saying that even those as callous as Felos appears to be, deliberately genuflect at the altar of death.

But I am saying that all too many have become unwitting disciples of a pagan death cult, which romanticizes death and the death process, and disturbingly discounts the universal human will to live. At the very least they are blind agents in the incremental, inexorable devaluation of sacred human life.

They would have you believe, just as the pro-abortionists, that they are primarily interested in vindicating the choice, freedom and intent of the patient. Yet they don't seem remotely interested in inquiring into what Terri's choice really is, just as the pro-abortionists do their level best to deprive pregnant women contemplating an abortion of information that might militate against making a choice for life.

They seem completely untroubled by the fact that Terri left no written declaration of her intention not to be kept alive, much less via feeding tube. They are unfazed that the only evidence she wants to die is the testimony of an estranged husband who somehow didn't remember to mention it during the first years of her disability when he was pursuing a malpractice award. Why wasn't he trying to honor "her wishes" then?

They appear entirely impervious to statements from Terri's parents and siblings, and from some of her medical providers, that Terri does want to live, which, if true, would cancel out any past expression to the contrary made, if at all, many years before.

They are so incurious about the plethora of irregularities in this case and especially Terri's reported current will to live that one has to conclude they have a bias against keeping severely brain-damaged people alive, regardless of their intent, past or present.

If Terri doesn't want to live, then why did she make loud noises when told that all she needed to do to stay alive was to express her will to live? Even forgetting everything else, if there is any chance she was trying to express her desire to live, then we have no moral authority to permit her to be killed.

The fact that Michael's defenders are turning a deaf ear to Terri's cries and casually dismissing the very real possibility that she possesses a will to live that transcends her brain damage proves it isn't her intent they seek to honor, but their superior opinion that she doesn't need to be kept alive in these circumstances. Rationalize if you must, but they are resolving all doubts against life and making their decision based on subjective quality of life assessments.

Some doubtlessly will respond that the courts have painstakingly considered all the evidence. While I am skeptical about that, I don't believe courts should have the authority to authorize the killing of an otherwise healthy woman in these circumstances, especially when she left no written directive. I hope state legislatures promptly address this travesty.

The enlightened among us pride themselves in rejecting the idea of slippery slopes, but it hardly takes a Nostradamus to see what our approach to the Schiavo case could lead to in the near future.

As long as we presume to place ourselves in the decision of playing God by sanctioning the killing of a physically healthy, sometimes-conscious woman today, who very well might want to live, there is no reason to believe that other vulnerable individuals will be spared down the road.

When that time comes, people will be even more sophisticated in characterizing their destruction of humanity as humane. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."