Peggy Noonan in OpinionJournal this morning expresses the confusion I’m familiar with. Why are those so eager to see Terri Schaivo dead? Excepts:
God made the world or he didn’t.
God made you or he didn’t.
If he did, your little human life is, and has been, touched by the divine. If this is true, it would be true of all humans, not only some. And so–again, if it is true–each human life is precious, of infinite value, worthy of great respect.
Most–not all, but probably most–of those who support Terri Schiavo’s right to live believe the above. This explains their passion and emotionalism. They believe they are fighting for an invaluable and irreplaceable human life. They are like the mother who is famously said to have lifted the back of a small car off the ground to save a child caught under a tire. You’re desperate to save a life, you’re shot through with adrenaline, your strength is for half a second superhuman, you do the impossible.
That is what they are trying to do.
They do not want an innocent human life ended for what appear to be primarily practical and worldly reasons–e.g., Mrs. Schiavo’s quality of life is low, her life is pointless. They say: Who is to say it is pointless? And what does pointless even mean? Maybe life itself is the point.
In Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, the very first words are, “It’s not about you.” My life is not my own, it’s a gift from God. I’ve been rethinking my Living Will recently to reflect this thinking. At what point does one tell the Almighty, “Step aside, we have this under control, and we’re going to kill this woman.”
I do not understand why people who want to save the whales (so do I) find campaigns to save humans so much less arresting. I do not understand their lack of passion. But the save-the-whales people are somehow rarely the stop-abortion-please people.
The PETA people, who say they are committed to ending cruelty to animals, seem disinterested in the fact of late-term abortion, which is a cruel procedure performed on a human.
I do not understand why the don’t-drill-in-Alaska-and-destroy-its-prime-beauty people do not join forces with the don’t-end-a-life-that-holds-within-it-beauty people.
I do not understand why those who want a freeze on all death penalty cases in order to review each of them in light of DNA testing–an act of justice and compassion toward those who have been found guilty of crimes in a court of law–are uninterested in giving every last chance and every last test to a woman whom no one has ever accused of anything.
There are passionate groups of women in America who decry spousal abuse, give beaten wives shelter, insist that a woman is not a husband’s chattel. This is good work. Why are they not taking part in the fight for Terri Schiavo? Again, what explains their lack of passion on this? If Mrs. Schiavo dies, it will be because her husband, and only her husband, insists she wanted to, or would want to, or said she wanted to in a hypothetical conversation long ago. A thin reed on which to base the killing of a human being.
The pull-the-tube people say, “She must hate being brain-damaged.” Well, yes, she must. (This line of argument presumes she is to some degree or in some way thinking or experiencing emotions.) Who wouldn’t feel extreme sadness at being extremely disabled? I’d weep every day, wouldn’t you? But consider your life. Are there not facets of it, or facts of it, that make you feel extremely sad, pained, frustrated, angry? But you’re still glad you’re alive, aren’t you? Me too. No one enjoys a deathbed. Very few want to leave.
Terri Schiavo may well die. No good will come of it. Those who are half in love with death will only become more red-fanged and ravenous.
When Terri dies, her husband will move on. You and I will move on. Terri’s parents will be left with one less child at the order of the government. And collectively we will all value life just a little less.