Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It takes a village?...

Wesley Smith has an op-ed article in the October 2003 issue of First Things. In, Waking from the Dead, he writes of how the courts and the medical profession have both allowed, even pushed, for the status of "person" to be removed from those individuals who happen to be un- or semi-conscious. Indeed, in his words, "Welcome to the surreal world of “personhood theory,” under which people diagnosed with permanent loss of consciousness or the ability to meaningfully think and communicate with the world are denigrated as “nonpersons.” Human nonpersons, in this way of thinking, are no longer deemed to be full and equal members of the human community. This means they have fewer rights and lesser value. (Other supposed human nonpersons include embryos, fetuses, newborn infants—sometimes referred to as “potential persons”—people with significant developmental disabilities, and people with Alzheimer’s disease.)" Smith shows us that the slippery slope logic behind such mentality inevidibly drives us towards a futile-care theory in which the quality of life for the patient is analyzed, by the medical care providers, to determine whether they feel the patient really has any real hope of meaningful existence. Further down the slope we come to the realization that letting non-person humans die without utilizing some of their functioning body parts is very wasteful indeed. Hence, we have now ended up with a harvester mentality, so that "several doctors writing for the “International Forum for Transplant Ethics” urged that the legal definition of death be changed to include permanent unconsciousness so that “it would be possible to take the life of a patient... by a lethal injection, and then remove the organs needed for transplantation, subject to the usual criteria for consent.” In other words, death would cease to be a matter of biology but would become a sociological construct. (It must be stressed at this point that these proposals have not yet been enacted.)" In cases in which a handicapped person is about to be starved to death, such as Terri Schiavo's, who ends up fighting for the patient? Typically it is the patient's blood relatives - their FAMILY. What social unit is under attack in our society today? The FAMILY. If we let the village take control of our families, who will win?

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