March 24, 2005

William F. Buckley Sez

There was never a more industrious inquiry, than in the Schiavo case, into the matter of rights formal and inchoate. It is simply wrong, whatever is felt about the eventual abandonment of her by her husband, to use the killing language. She was kept alive for fifteen years, underwent a hundred medical ministrations, all of them in service of an abstraction, which was that she wanted to stay alive. There are laws against force-feeding, and no one will know whether, if she had had the means to convey her will in the matter, she too would have said, Enough.

That's right. We'll never know for sure one way or the other. In theory, we should err on the side of life. But after a decade and a half, it begins to look like we as a society are trying to prove something: that no matter how ridiculous it might seem, we will not give up hope. We will leave no stone unturned. We will leave nothing undone. We are good people. We are a good nation.

Is God testing us? Are we afraid we will have failed that test if this one woman is allowed to die in peace?

And how much are we willing to give up to get there? What if the price tag is States' rights? The Republican Party? The next election? Another attack on American soil?

How far are you willing to take this? I want to know—and I don't.

Via Beautiful Atrocities.

Posted by Attila at March 24, 2005 10:38 PM

"Is God testing us? Are we afraid we will have failed that test if this one woman is allowed to die in peace?"

I worry that maybe the opposite could be true - that we perhaps fail the test when we forget that the body is just a vessel, and focus myopically on our ability to preserve that vessel, even at cost of trapping the soul from returning home to Him.

The case is one where the imperative to determine how one feels about the ethics is overpowering, but I freely confess that I can't make up my mind on the issue. The only thing that I feel for certain is that the principle of being a nation of constitutional government and laws is more important than any one person's life - just ask the thousands of our best and brightest, who for over two hundred years soaked the flag in their blood to keep us that way.

Posted by: Simon Dodd at March 25, 2005 06:12 AM

That's it. Precisely.

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 25, 2005 07:24 AM

Not the point at all. The test may be in what we do in the face of the needs of the stricken, the seemingly purposeless, the half-dead. Do we see the terrible face of Christ in these, or do we simply turn away, As so many turned away from him? Who are the priest and the Levite from the Good Samaritan story today? Who is among "least of these, my brothers and sisters..." staring us in the face, glassy-eyed and needy?

Posted by: Politickal Animal at March 25, 2005 02:20 PM

Maybe. But when I cannot know what her wishes would have been in a situation like this, I do not know how aggressive she would like her treatment to be. Therefore I do not know how to serve her needs.

Do we ease her suffering by prolonging the ordeal, or by allowing nature to take its course?

All I'm asking is that we try to walk a little bit softly, here. I'm all in favor of requiring an MRI when these things go in front of a judge, but I'm hoping that the history of abortion law will remind my pro-life brethren that "hard cases make for bad law."

I wish we'd concentrate less on this one case, and more on how to prevent this sort of thing in the future whenever possible: how can we encourage living wills? How can we guard against spouses with hidden agendas?

Posted by: Attila Girl at March 25, 2005 06:49 PM

"how can we encourage living wills?"

I should think that one, highly-publicized case, where such a document was lacking, with a tragic outcome, should do the job.

If you read Charles Krauthammer's article in the WashPost yesterday, that made some good suggestions for where we could go next in terms of national policy.

Posted by: Simon Dodd at March 25, 2005 07:35 PM

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