Have you ever wondered why some people are opposed to euthanasia, and believe that as long as there is any evidence of life, that the date of someone’s death is best left up to God?
Unless you’re very young, or have been on Mars for a few years, you’ve probably heard of the Terri Schiavo case from a few years ago. She was the woman who was hospitalized unconscious under suspicious circumstances, and was diagnosed as being in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). Her husband, who had since moved on and produced children with another woman and stood to gain financially from Terri’s death, lobbied the courts until they finally gave permission to starve this woman to death.
No one denied Terri had suffered brain damage, but despite videos showing her laughing, trying to talk, and responding to various stimuli, a judge in Florida determined her life wasn’t living and ordered her feeding tube removed. After about 13 or 14 days, she finally died of dehydration.
Since then, we have heard of numerous cases where people in comas and vegetative states have come out, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently and fully functional.
We also continue to see more and more evidence piling up that points to life and brain activity even within PVS patients.
Now comes word from ABC News of Haleigh Poutre who was beaten into a coma by her stepfather Jason Strickland in 2005. She became a ward of the state and the Massachusetts Department of Social Services tried to have her life ended. Almost at the last minute was her death sentence by the state lifted, when her stepfather–probably trying to avoid a murder trial–petitioned the court to keep her alive, and before the state could remove her ventilator, she began breathing on her own.
Now, after doctors said she would never recover, the girl is awake and communicating.
Here is what the “experts” said:
“Short of developing a technique for a complete brain transplant, there is no hope that medical treatment will be discovered in the foreseeable future which could reverse” her condition, a doctor said, according to court records.
How many people–like Terri Schiavo–have we, in our vast wisdom, killed when life remained? How many have we killed who might have recovered, had we not taken life-and-death into our own hands?
Young Haleigh is another case that warns us not to be so quick to discard human life. Human life is precious, created in the image of God, each person unique, and once a person is dead, there will never be another one.
If we must err, we should err on the side of preserving human life. We used to understand that, before we became so enamored with death…or so inconvenienced by those dependent on us.