Monday, March 21, 2005

Sentenced to Life

Bear with me while I try to get my head around the Terri Schiavo case.

I'm probably going to piss somebody off here, but so be it. There's no way I can please both all of you all of the time. [insert weak smiley here]

First--I beg you, if you're considering taking your own life--please read this article about Golden Gate Bridge suicides right now:

Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. "I wanted to disappear," he said. "So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under." On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. "I still see my hands coming off the railing," he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped."
Still, I support the right to die. If an adult, in his or her right mind, truly considers life no longer worth living; if they consider the issue rationally, discuss it with those who love them, and reach the same conclusion--then I believe they should be allowed to terminate their own life.

Similarly, I believe adults should be able to decide, in advance, that they be allowed to "die with dignity" should they end up in certain situations (e.g. if they should end up in a persistent vegetative state).

Anyone who believes they will wish to die under certain conditions should put it in writing. Diana blogged about living wills today, and in her post offers excellent links to online resources that make it easy for anyone to make their wishes known in a legally-binding way.

As with the stories from failed suicide attempts, I imagine a lot of people who think they'd want to die in certain situations feel very different when they actually find themselves in those situations, and they aren't able to express their new opinion. That's why I don't have a living will. But I believe we should be allowed to consider these things for ourselves, and to do what we believe is right for ourselves.

I don't believe the Terri Schiavo case is a good one for resolving these issues. She didn't put it in writing, and while I don't necessarily doubt Michael Schiavo's motives for wanting to let her die, I also don't necessarily think we should just take his word for it that she really does want to die. There's no way to know what Terri Schiavo originally wanted, and there's no way to ask what remains of her, so I think it's wiser to keep her alive.

Which is not to say that I'm with the Republicans on this one.

As Diana discusses in this previous post, the Republican position would be a lot more logical if they weren't in favor of killing so many poor people with the death penalty. This cartoon by Ann Telnaes illustrates another good reason to be cynical about the Republican position.

So, I'll bet I've managed not only not to please everyone--I wouldn't be at all surprised to find I've managed to piss everybody off!


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