Maggie Gallagher

Nor is there agreement that Terri is in a vegetative state right now. Her family disputes it, saying she sometimes responds to their loving gestures and words. Their perceptions are dismissed as wishful thinking. But a neurologist who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1999 (and who examined Terri Schiavo several years ago) told BP News that Terri is not in a vegetative state. She sometimes responds. Terri (he says) has been able to swallow pudding in the past, and can swallow her own saliva right now. With therapy, she might not even need the feeding tube. "They are truly withholding food from a person who is awake, alert, and can eat and swallow."

Does that matter? If Terri were capable of drinking water right now, would we be justified in withholding it from her? Are we celebrating her autonomy or her death?

When does the "right to die" become the right to kill?

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.