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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Feeding Tubes

I am appalled by this entire Terri Schiavo business. It seems pretty clear that the courts, especially the trial court, is bending over backwards to get their desired result, that the feeding tube be removed. Letting a husband who has all but in name remarried and started a new family make the decision? Come on. Basically, the courts and a whole bunch of others have decided her life simply isn’t worth living. The law doesn’t yet allow us to give her an overdose of morphine, so withholding food and water will have to do. It’s akin to partial birth abortion. Those that do it would not have a problem with taking the baby all the way out and then killing it, but that would be against the law, so they take it out halfway, kill it, and then take it the rest of the way out.

But I’m worried that the pro-life side is going to far. In effect, they are arguing that feeding tubes must never be removed and perhaps must, if necessary for nourishment, always be put in. That is, food and water must always be provided, no matter what you have to do to deliver it. A priest at Mass yesterday basically said that we have no right to make a living will that says not to insert a feeding tube in some cases.

I disagree. Suppose I’m, say, sixty and saving my life requires some ridiculously expensive therapy for the rest of my life. I certainly have the right to say, forget it. It’s not worth it. I’d rather my family have the money. Well, a feeding tube and twenty four hour care is ridiculously expensive. Saying I don’t want to have this done for me in certain circumstances is an entirely different matter from trying to withhold it for someone else.

But what about the argument that it's just food and water? Food and water isn't heroic care.

True. But a feeding tube requires surgery. The idea that we are morally obligated to have surgery seems preposterous.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think the "pro-lifers" are going to far. All the absolutism arguments in this case are straw men put up by the left. This case is exceptional because it involves a family dispute of two extremes. On one side you have the husband that appears uncompromising. He refuses to allow one last look before pulling the tube. On the other side you have Terri's family who may always be in pursuit of one last look.

The other absolutists in this argument are those who believe that Congress was somehow wrong to intervene with private legislation. I agree that federalism and states rights should be the general rule, but all rules have exceptions, otherwise they are bad rules. I can't think of a better exception to the general rule than a case like this. Congress was right to intervene. Terri deserves one last independent look at her case and the parents should accept the outcome of the last independent look.

12:35 AM, March 24, 2005  

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