Monday, March 28, 2005

Rules for future Terri-like decisions

In light of the Terri Schiavo situation, I'd like to make a distinction between two types of cases:

1) When a person is kept alive through artificial means;

and 2) When a person is not kept alive through artificial means.

Removing artificial life support and allowing someone in some kind of permanent coma to die naturally can be perfectly acceptable, it seems to me. Doctors should follow the patient's wishes. But when in doubt, as President Bush says, we should "err on the side of life."

When there isn't artificial life support, however, killing the patient (e.g., not giving them the food and water that all of us regularly need) is simply immoral. The patient's wishes are irrelevant, as no one has the right to kill herself.

But #1 doesn't apply to the Terri Schiavo case, since she's not on artificial life support - so her death is immoral. And even if it did, there's way, way too much doubt about her wishes to decide to kill her (plus she's not in a coma) - which makes it murder, not suicide. And that's just horrifying.

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