The continuing case of Terri Schiavo certainly gives one pause. The pro-lifers say that life is more important than anything, but that ignores the issue of quality of life. In Ms. Schiavo's case, there is no quality of life. By all accounts she's brain dead, essentially a vegetable, her body an empty shell. There's no thinking, feeling mind there, no soul left. Her husband argues for her right to die, a mercy killing that the pro-lifers view as killing, period. Her parents continue to hold hope for some sort of miraculous recovery, although doctors say that isn't possible. It's a messy family matter, writ large on the national stage; the perhaps-irrational hope of the parents versus the reluctant acknowledgment of the sad reality by the husband.
This is a tragic situation on its own, and it's made more tragic by its elevation to national status. In my opinion, this is an extremely private situation that should be an equally private decision, and shouldn't be subject to the attention and whims of the national public. It's even worse when craven politicians get involved, as our feeble-brained Congress is trying to do. Using this woman's tragic plight for political gain is shameful at best, potentially criminal (in a constitutionally corrupt manner) at worst. Let the husband do what he has to do for his wife; keep the courts and the senators and the congressmen out of it.
Of course, this is a political matter for the religious right, an issue made-to-order to illustrate their take-no-prisoners pro-life stance. It's the flip side of the abortion issue; every life is sacred, the quality of that life be damned. Not that I want politicians or bureaucrats deciding who should live and who should die, but I'm definitely okay with an individual making this sort of personal life-or-death decision. (The Schiavo case is complicated by the lack of a living will, so Ms. Schiavo's own wishes are apparently unknown -- hence the court action.) It's not the government's place to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body, including whether I can or cannot take my own life. For some people, quality of life matters more than simply life itself; I respect that opinion.
I'd have more respect for the rabid pro-lifers if they were at least a little consistent in their views. Killing an unthinking, unfeeling, unborn fetus is a heinous crime, but it's okay for the state to kill convicted criminals -- even youngsters, as it was before the recent Supreme Court ruling. Taking a permanently brain-dead person off life support is criminal, but it's okay for the state to send American troops overseas to kill tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. If all life is sacred, then so is the life of a thinking, feeling, breathing convicted felon, and certainly that of an equally thinking, feeling, breathing Iraqi civilian. If these hypocritical right-wingnut religious fascists continue to condone state-sponsored executions and deadly military actions, then they forfeit the moral high ground when it comes to abortion, mercy killing, and other similar gray-area issues.
If you're truly pro-life, then you should hold the following positions:
- Oppose the death penalty, in all cases
- Support stronger gun-control laws, since guns kill people -- especially handguns and assault weapons
- Oppose U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, where tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of innocent civilians have been killed
Unfortunately, most pro-lifers tend to support the death penalty, oppose gun control, and enthusiastically support murdering foreigners in the name of national security. That's extremely hypocritical, no matter how you look at it.
Personally, I want less government intervention in private decisions, which I suppose makes me a bit of a Libertarian in these matters. I want the right to do whatever the hell I want to to my own body, even if that includes killing myself. The right to die is sacred, and to me defines the term personal liberty. What can be more personal than one's own life?
But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.