Social Issues

Social Issues
Speaking the Truth in Love
Speaking the Truth in Love


Before the days of political correctness, the APA defined homosexuality as aberrant behavior. It was not until political pressures came to bear that references changed to refer to homosexuality in terms of a lifestyle. Unfortunately, the APA is one of the only associations with which most lay persons are familiar. However, there is a silenced group that is able to provide genuine, scientific answers to questions arising with respect to this topic. Click here for a comprehensive look at homosexuality, its causes, and treatment. If you are a person with questions or doubts about your sexual orientation, you may also want to click here for more information.


Sadly, the courts still cannot see the forest for the trees. Instead of interpreting laws--like what constitutes murder--their rulings had to do with whether or not Florida courts followed proper procedures in Terri's case. Of course, this has nothing to do with whether killing Terri by dehydration/starvation was right or wrong. Unfortunately, the people I have spoken with have the impression that all the appeals had to do with whether or not it was "right" to remove the feeding tube.

The decision to remove a feeding tube permanently should be as a result of determining that death is proximate as a result of body system failure and that continued feeding is, therefore, of no benefit or is harmful. Withdrawal of nutrients should not be the CAUSE of body system failure.

Terri was not in a terminal state at the time her feeding tube was removed. She died as a result of dehydration and starvation. Do not confuse this case with end-of-life terminal patients who are in the end stages of dying and, thus, their bodies can no longer assimilate food. Nutrients are justifiably withheld in these latter cases because administering food would increase suffering, as well as prolong their inevitable proximate process of death. Terri's case--because she was not dying when her feeding tube was removed--is at best a case of assisted suicide (which is illegal in my home state). Why do I say this? Terri was not in an endstage of disease, such as cancer or heart failure, but it was claimed that she would want to die. Helping someone to die when they would not die otherwise is assisted suicide. Of course, it's probably MUCH worse than assisted suicide because in assisted suicide, death is made to be as quick and pain-free as possible. Terri's body was made to suffer through dehydration, as well as starvation--and we cannot even be sure that she would want to die.

It's possible that this case is actually murder. We have no evidence, except for the testimony of her adulterer husband, that Terri did not want to continue living, including no evidence that she was in a state of suffering prior to the time the tube was removed. It seems far-fetched that anyone would choose slow death by dehydration & starvation over the loving care of one's parents. When people make statements like what Michael Schiavo claims she made prior to her injury, they are usually picturing themselves in a scenario of permanent respirator dependence and agonizing pain, not simply needing an auxillary route for obtaining nutrients. There are many patients, fully cognitive, that require a feeding tube due to swallowing problems, people who actually put the nutrients into the end of the tube to feed themselves--and we ALL need food to live. Nourishment is the most basic care provided to a human being.

On the surface, it appears it was the only way that Mr. Schiavo could be sure she would die--since she had not died on her own in all those years, including 6 years under Hospice care. Since Hospices do not administer any treatment to prevent death from terminal disease, and she was still alive after 6 years, we know she was not in a state of terminal disease. She did not receive any unusual measures for prolongation of life. She simply received her food more directly into the digestive tract.

Perhaps you think her life is not worth living. Hmmm.....there are plenty of people with whom I would not want to change places.....and, no doubt, many people who would not want to change places with me. This is a very dangerous basis on which to make a decision of life or death, especially with respect to cognition, intellect, or perceived "happiness"--after all, some of the most delightful and "happy-go-luckiest" folks I have ever met have Down's Syndrome. What if their future life had been perceived to be not worth living and nutrition was withheld from them? This is where we are going if we sanction the withholding or removal of food from those not otherwise dying.

By the way, to impose death on someone because their life doesn't appear worth living is a slap in the face to anyone with a disability. It is also a statement that society does not find them of worth. People are human, regardless of their cognitive state, and must be treated with dignity, love, compassion ("to suffer with"), and respect in a civilized society. In fact, it is just such times as these that can develop our compassion for one needing and counting on our help. Consider that Terri Schiavo's life--even without hearing a word from her--has made a profound and permanent mark on history and challenges experts in medical ethics.

For those who don't believe in slippery slopes, here is a reminder from an article at The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity:
"Nazi Germany had a comprehensive program to euthanize those whose lives were judged by others to be 'not worth living'. This included people who were elderly or mentally impaired. Today, The Netherlands does not prosecute any act of euthanasia as long as certain conditions are met, including patient consent. However, it is not surprising that once the prohibition on killing was removed, some people started judging when others should be killed even without obtaining their consent first. An official Dutch government study has documented nearly 6,000 cases in which patients have been killed without their consent."

Some doctors are trying to say that it is a painless way to go, but we have no objective means of identifying pain &, contrary to popular belief, the mind is NOT equivalent to an EEG reading. (There is progress in pain research. Accidentally, researchesr found that people release glutamine and glutamate when they are in pain, so further study is needed. Glutamate is released under situations of stress, as well.)

The removal of Terri's feeding tube was not an act of love for her--no one would choose death by dehydration as the final chapter of a loved one's life. If she is unaware that her life is of less quality (ie, not suffering mentally about her state) and is not physically suffering, then perhaps we must conclude it was to end her husband's suffering.

Why didn't Mr. Schiavo simply divorce Terri? He implied that he didn't want to abandon her, but what is adultery?

Perhaps you believe Terri's death will alleviate hardship for the husband and family. Perhaps you believe we should always focus on achieving what will produce the least suffering or pain in our own lives, or on eliminating whatever is hard in life, whenever possible. Imagine the ultimate consequence of holding that goal.....

We would have to avoid everyone, so as not to experience any conflict. We would never attempt anything that might end in failure. We would never be able to build endurance, since perseverance is required to achieve it. But the worst result of this fantasy of being footloose and fancy free of cares, worries, trouble, or pain is that we would never even be able to allow ourselves to love.

To be sure, our God is sovereign & He provides ultimate fairness & justice, so I am not worried about Terri. However, we are called to wrestle with ethical/moral decisions. To illustrate my point about not making our decisions based on our sense of whether another person's life is worth living, consider these articles about Locked-In Syndrome. This condition is marked by a loss of muscle movement, except for those controlling the eyes, such as may be caused by a stroke in the brain stem area. This was not Terri's condition, apparently, but it does remind us that the abilities of the mind are quite separate from the abilities of the body. The last article also reminds us that people deal differently with disabilities--some wish they could die; others continue to miraculously contribute with the help of technology, or the compassion of someone who cares.
National Institutes of Health
The Diving Bell & the Butterfly