I have never seen so much energy expended by so many people to make one poor, helpless woman dead. Yet, despite it all, Terri lives! The key question is why? At a time when people who are far less cognitively disabled then Terri are dehydrated to death in all fifty states with nary a peep of protest, why is it so hard to put Terri into her grave?
I think the answer is severalfold. First, the videos posted on the Internet “humanized” Terri. She was no longer seen abstractly as somehow an “other,” she was an “us,” a sister, a daughter, a friend. Second, killing is best done in the darkness. With the Kleig lights of publicity burning brightly in this case, it became much more difficult for those in power with a conscience to just sit back and watch. Third, people are no longer buying the notion that her death by dehydration, if it comes, will necessarily be painless (as I wrote about some time ago). Finally, the Schiavo case marks a big sea change. People used to be content to just allow the “experts” of bioethics to decide these matters. Now, that is less true.
In the end Terri may live or she may be dehydrated to death. But I think (and hope) that the days of meek obedience to the “bioethical consensus” are over.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?