Somewhere on A1A...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Life and Death Decisions

Over the course of 11 years I watched three people I love, experience slow and painful deaths. Feeding tubes kept them all alive a little longer than otherwise possible. During those years I've had countless discussions with other family members about end-of-life issues. I've held medical power of attorney for someone incapable of acting in his own behalf. I can confidently say that I have given more than enough thought to the way I'd prefer my end-of-life care to be handled.

I never want to live like Terri Schiavo, being kept alive artificially with no ability to give love to those close to me. I want the right to die naturally with some sort of dignity. It is wrong for Governor Bush to have the right to make that decision for me. Michael Schiavo may not get your sympathy, but it is no reason to assume that it's not right to allow Terri to die naturally. Because you think you know better than he is no reason to allow a government official to force his will on them in the name of everyone in the State. I would consider it torture for anyone to make me live in the state she is in. She may not be able to say, "Keep me alive," but she can't say "Leave me to die in peace," either. The Law recognizes a special relationship in marriage. Those who take the parents side seem to disagree.

The life and death decisions that can be made in such situations are incredibly varied; the circumstances are limitless, as are the individual feelings we all may have when faced with those circumstances... either as the patient or the care-giver/decision maker. One thing is for certain: I want someone that I love making those decisions for me when I can't. I don't want Governor Bush or any other politician to have the power to decide for me, especially if the decision is against my wishes.

It is particularly offensive the way that the Florida Legislature rushed to take this ill-advised action to overturn six years of court decisions. The courts may not be perfect, but they are by far the best way to handle disputes in these cases.

It is a deeply troubling moment when a stranger, a governor, a legislator, a president is given the power to write the end of our ethical, medical, family tales. Yes, this is how we lose our freedoms: One signature at a time.


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