The euthanasia debate in America has been revitalized with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the food supply could be withdrawn from a woman in a permanent vegetative state and severely disabled state.
Terry Schiavo, formerly of Warminster, Pa., fell into a vegetative state thirteen years ago after sustaining injuries in a collapse. Her husband has been attempting for several years to disconnect Schiavo’s feeding tube, resulting in her death by starvation and dehydration. Death would occur between ten and fourteen days. Death by euthanasia, or drug-assisted termination of life for the terminally ill, is currently illegal.
This week, the Florida legislature and the state’s governor, Jeb Bush, signed legislation mandating the restoration of her feeding tube after it had been removed for several days.
In a nation that executes people who are alive and fully functional, denying a humane right to death to terminally ill patients who have done nothing wrong is hypocritical.
Doctors who deny their terminally-ill patients the right to end their own lives painlessly are only being irrational and insensitive by insisting that medical ethics do not allow them to euthanize patients. There is no distinction between administering life-ending drugs or not feeding them after they have been entrusted to a doctor’s care.
Strangely enough, most churches take the stance that while euthanasia is sinful and nothing more than suicide, withdrawal of food is acceptable. If God were honestly upset with us for allowing terminally ill patients to die, I doubt a loophole of dying through negligence would bring forgiveness.
When a patient has no hope of recovery and has expressed a wish not to live in a vegetative and comatose state as a burden to family, in a manner that makes it difficult for loved ones to let go, they should they be allowed the right to euthanasia.
Death may be a very taboo subject in America, but it is our responsibility to make a rational and consistent judgment about the right thing to do in this circumstance.
Kyle Wind can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.