Give Me Quality, or Give Me Death

Majikthise has an interesting, and comprehensive, post on the myths about the Terri Schiavo case. (If you’re not familiar with it, the short story is that Terri is a woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, and her parents are trying to keep her alive, while her husband is fighting to let her die, which is what he says she wanted.)

I personally believe that Terri should be allowed to die. Those who are in a permanent vegetative state do not have any higher cognitive function, which frankly, seems like a blessing, as having self-awareness while trapped inside a totally nonfunctional body seems a fate worse than death.

This case seems to pit those who believe we should have the right to die with dignity at our own choosing, should we be faced with a terminal affliction (barring extraordinary measures) that allows no chance of recovery, with those who believe in a right to life at all costs—that "culture of life" our president (who signed the execution orders on over 100 people while governor of Texas) is so keen on talking about. However, what’s always missing, it seems, from right to life arguments is the concept of quality of life. Is a child that would be born into a life of atrocious abuse, for example, really better off being born? Is a person who will suffer endlessly until an inevitable death really better being off forced to endure unrelenting agony until their final day?

Quality of life means something; that’s what “pursuit of happiness” is all about. In a perfect world, parents who have no will or ability to properly care and love a child would give it up for adoption into a suitable home, and the practice of medicine would be so exact as to never leave anyone hanging in an earthly purgatory between life and death. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and so we must be responsible in our approaches to managing that imperfection.

In a perfect world, the gift of life should always be the answer, but in the flawed world in which we live, sometimes it isn’t.

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