I read this entry from Catherine of Liberal Hawks and I think it shines a line into the little spoken corners of reality that people retreat from and choose not to deal with. And then.................and then there's Terri and the fallacy crashes and burns and the blinders are ripped off our face/
I don't know what Terri feels or wants, or how conscious she may (or may
My best guess, based mostly on two lines of research that are either brand
new (the research on minimally conscious states) or somewhat, but not
directly, related to Terri¹s situation (the research on quadriplegics and
emotional well-being) is that she¹s not suffering horribly in her current
state, and may be in a positive frame of mind when she is conscious or
I don't think I¹m being as clear as I could be if I spent more time writing
What I'm trying to say is that I do feel horrified at the thought of living
as a handicapped person.
I feel so horrified at the thought of living as a severely handicapped
person that I have actually had to wonder whether, if somebody told me ŒI
can make you autistic for one day so you'll know what your children's lives
are like, I would do it.
I'm afraid I wouldn't. I live with two autistic kids, I just wrote a book
with an autistic adult, and I think I'm too afraid of how hard and
frightening it might be to have autism that I would not agree to be autistic
for even one day.
I don't actually feel that I have more insight into the nature of a disabled
person's consciousness than other people do (though I probably have more
insight into autism specifically; that's true).
What I feel is that I have a pretty sharp awareness of the negative feelings
being expressed in this public debate towards people with severe handicaps.
AND I DON'T EXEMPT MYSELF FROM THIS. It is horribly, horribly upsetting to
think about severe handicaps; it is horribly upsetting to see a person with
severe handicaps; and it is horribly upsetting to think about one day having
a severe handicap oneself.
This emotion, which I share, translates directly into a very widespread
feeling that death is preferable to life with a severe handicap. And not
just preferable for me, but preferable for others. (If you look at polling
on this question, a huge majority of people say they would rather be dead
than be severely disabled.)
It¹s this link I¹d like to break. Ideally, I would like our country to react
to the sight of Terri Schiavo as warmly as possible; I would like people to
look at her and not have, as their first thought, Œshe would be better off
I would like to see our country reach a consensus‹recover a consensus,
actually‹that we err on the side of life.
This does not mean that I would support laws that everyone has to have all
the intrusive medical care a physician can give him, come what may. Families
should be free to make their own decisions, and draw their own lines.
But I hope to see the starting point for such decisions be that all life has
equal moral worth and value. That should be our core belief, as a culture.
Because I do believe we are on a slippery slope, and I do believe‹and can
give evidence to support my belief‹that we have already tumbled quite a long
ways down it.
Now I have a question.
Here's John Derbyshire, at The Corner:
"I think it is cruel to let this woman linger on in her degraded and
"The life Terri Schiavo has is not worth living."
To me, those are pretty close to fighting words.
At a minimum I need to know John Derbyshire's views of the severely disabled
children I saw at the school for the multiply handicapped in the Valley.
Are their lives worth living?
I need to hear a yes on that one.
Here is Ramesh Ponnoru's reaction to Derbyshire:
RE: ABSOLUTISM [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Derbyshire comes out and says it: "The life Terri Schiavo has is not worth
living. I wouldn't want to live it, and I wouldn't want anyone I care about
to live it. For once, I believe, the courts have got it right. For pity's
sake, let this poor woman die." Let her die? She has no terminal illness.
She is being killed by the denial of food and water. On Derbyshire's logic,
there is no reason why we shouldn't--and every reason why we should--make
things easier on Terri and ourselves by immediately giving her a lethal
injection. It would be quicker, more efficient, and possibly less painful
Posted at 02:59 PM
What about this?
It would be radically more humane to kill Terri Schiavo the way hospices
euthanize people, by giving them an overdose of morphine. These deaths are
very quick and painless.
And since I keep mentioning dogs, let me add that many, many people
euthanize their dogs, and these deaths never, ever involve starving and
dehydrating the animal for days and weeks. The animal is given an injection,
and they are dead within seconds. Three years ago I held our dog Jazzy while
If the issue is Terri Schiavo's suffering, if that is what we as a culture
are truly concerned with, why are we putting her through 2 weeks of
starvation and dehydration?