Oh, The Humanity!
A woman named Terri Schiavo lies dehydrating in Florida. She is incapable of receiving nutrition through her mouth, and thus must be fed by a tube. Her husband claims that she wishes to die and be free, her parents say otherwise and both the husband and the immediate family are lawyered to the hilt. This has become yet another battleground in the war between so-called Pro Life and so-called Pro-Choice political advocacy groups.
In a recent poll on whether Terri should live or dehydrate, ABC News offered the following preamble to the main question.
" Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her husband and her parents disagree about whether she would have wanted to be kept alive. Florida courts have sided with the husband and her feeding tube was removed on Friday."
Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters posts that ABC News made her seem less well off to push an agenda. Namely,
"... she has never been on life support, she is simply getting food and water thru a tube. That is not "on life support." Further, while some doctors have said she had "no consciousness " others in the medical community disagree. "
Wizbang demands to know "If they are doing the right thing, why do they have to stretch the truth to defend their actions?" - H/T to Wizbang.
I demand to know how in the heck anyone would know whether Mr. Schiavo or the parents has this issue right at all? Also, for the unfortunate judges who have had this one dropped in their laps, how do they adjudicate this?
There are two possible ways to approach that conundrum. The first is to make a decision based on Utilitarian grounds, under the particular instances of this case. The judge could apply the decision and then walk away, announcing that a decision of this magnitude could only be correctly made on a case-by-case basis.
The other method would be an attempt on the part of the judge to write overarching legal guidance that would settle future controversies based on clear, legal interpretation. Given that this decision would potentially be used as a precedent anyhow, there is an argument over who wins the high ground of precedent.
Having a hard and fast rule to adjudicate these cases in the future would save a lot of grief and grievance later. What would be even better, would be an overarching legal standard of what constitutes a human being. This is ultimately what this fight is being waged over. We can't just cavalierly yank the plug out of a human being.
Nobody really wants an overarching standard of what constitutes a human being. That would cut too close to the quick. It would reveal way too much when unborn infants, and the chronically ill had to be retaxonimized for the next edition of the Biology Textbooks. That's ultimately what it has come to.
There are elements of modern society who want to be able to eschew their responsibilities to the living and not pay the penalty for it. These reponsibilities can be crushing, but they are towards a human being. At least they are, until we change the definition of what human is.
This is why we need to force the issue on the courts to decide whether there is such a thing as someone who is conceived of two human parents, but is not human. Making this battle take place in front of the cameras disallow this continued defining down of all of humanities.