Thursday, March 24

"THE SCHIAVO PROTOCOL"

Joe Carter at "The Evangelical Outpost" links to this excellent post, written by Charlie Lehardy at "AnotherThink," that makes the case that much would be different had Theresa Schindler-Schiavo married a better man than Michael Schiavo:

What might have happened if Terri Schiavo had married someone better than Michael? He seems to have responded to her illness with anger and resentment, not on her behalf, but towards her. At a time when she needed him most, he abandoned her for another woman, without even the respect to file for a divorce. He got on with his life and left her to die. In an earlier age, a man like that would have been branded a cad.

Enter the Schiavo Protocol. Men and women who are incapacitated, even when they face no immediate risk of dying, may now be declared unfit for further life-sustaining care. If an estranged husband can achieve this result over the objections of his wife's own parents, surely insurance companies, the Veterans Administration, Medicare, and other health-care funding agencies will realize that they might make use of this precedent as well, to cut off care for chronically ill patients when they have become a drain on our national healthcare resources.

A compassionate nation does not leave its wounded by the side of the road. The Schiavo Protocol is exquisitely Darwinian but appallingly inhumane. Completely apart from the dictates of any religious faith, the qualities of mercy, compassion and sympathy for the weak set us apart from every other species; they are core values in what we proudly call "civilization."

We have crossed the Rubicon. In the name of some twisted view of compassion, the Schiavo Protocol will arrogantly permit the killing of vulnerable men, women and children. Passive euthanasia—the denial of food and water—will lead inevitably to active euthanasia: assisted suicide and "mercy killing." Those who cannot walk the plank will be pushed off the boat.

There is no doubt that technology has leapt far ahead of our ethics. Many have said that we have no right to "play God." Tens of thousands are having their life-spans extended by amazing surgeries and miracle medicines. These same technologies can prolong life when the possibility for recovery is slim, or none.

We need to be realistic about a patient's prospects. We also need to respect doubt, and when there is doubt, to err on the side of life.

If only those making decisions in support of Michael Schiavo and his attorney George Felos had the commonsense and prescience of Mr. Lehardy.