In our March issue, William Luse has an article, "Let Live or Make Die? Terry Schiavo, Christopher Reeve & the Right Not to Be Killed." I highly recommend this article, which cuts through some of philosophical fog that has been created by media coverage of Terri Schiavo case. You will read, among other things, how some college students worked through some of the moral issues involved.
My two cents on the case runs something like this:
1) Michael Schiavo as legal guardian and husband has a moral obligation to care for his wife. He received $1 million in lawsuit more than 10 years ago that was supposed to be used for medical expenses toward rehabilitation of his wife. He did not use the money for his wife.
2) Terri Schiavo has never said that she wished not to live but rather euthanized in her current condition--at least there is no evidence that she ever said this other than her husband's claim that she did, a claim that he did not make until seven years had passed with Terri
3) Michael Schiavo, still legal guardian of his wife, has fathered two children with his current "fiance," with whom he has been living for some time.
4) How can someone who has taken money for his wife's rehabilitation and spent it on himself, committed adultery, fathered two children with another woman with whom he lives--how can he still be considered legal guardian?
5) Courts have ordered Terr's parents not to feed her by mouth, not hydrate her by putting ice chips in her mouth, and Michael Schiavo reportedly has forbidden this as well, even before the recent court rulings.
6) It would seem that the honest thing for Mr. Schiavo to do would be to legally divorce his wife, relinquish guardianship to her parents, and go away. It would be better than starving her to death.
7) Regardless of Terri's state, we may fairly ask the question: shall we starve and refuse drink to someone in this condition? She is not in a coma, breathes on her own, her heart beats on its own, she does have some brain functions (some doctors describe her responses are mere "reflexes"), she is not sick, diseased or dying. And she did not ask to have a feeding tube withheld.
8) Granted that it may be burdensome to support someone in this state (I fail to see how it is "vegetative," surely a perjorative term aimed to scare people who don't want to be viewed as vegetables--a beating heart, a smile, blinking eyes are more than vegetables have). But cannot we bear such burdens rather than starve someone to death? It's what the word tolerant means: to bear with what is burdensome. Can't we be a little more tolerant of Terri Schiavo and others like her?
Anyway read Luse's article in the March issue, which has just been posted.