If the Terri Schiavo case has taught us anything it’s that the right to life movement has become something much more sinister, something perhaps more appropriately titled the obligation-to-life movement. Its members would condemn others to a life of pain out of their own fear of death.
We have seen all manner of outrageous tactics employed to keep Schiavo’s body alive. The most heinous was when members of Congress tried to subpoena her to appear before them. She could not testify or serve any functional purpose because she is brain-dead. She has no capabilities of cognitive thought. Any opportunity for her to do good or bad, to learn lessons or to accumulate points towards salvation has already passed. Her soul has been trapped within her body for 15 years, unable to continue its natural journey.
Her parents, unable to recover from the shock of seeing their daughter reduced to a comatose state, have been fighting villainously to keep her soul caged in her useless body. They understandably feel sorrow over the loss of their daughter, but are completely unwilling to do what is best for her.
This is what has been left completely out of the debate over what to do with her. What is best for a body breathing without a brain, with no capabilities for independent survival or even thought?
Conservatives believe that individuals do best when left alone, unhampered by government restrictions. In the words of Ronald Reagan, "The basis of conservatism is a desire for less governmental interference, or less centralized authority." Many conservatives will attest to this as one of their core beliefs but then hypocritically ignore this belief when it applies to others.
For these new borrow-and-spend Republicans, "Leave me alone but let me tell others how to live their lives" should be the new party motto.
If we left Terry Schiavo alone, her body would die. But these religious maniacs are screaming that someone is out to "kill" her. Nobody wants to kill her. We just want to leave her alone and let her body and soul make a natural parting. Her soul has other work to do, and pumping a nutrient sludge into her stomach is keeping her soul from doing anything but stagnating.
If any of the religious protestors or self-serving politicians who spout about the "sanctity of life" would take a moment to consider this issue past their politics, they would see that no sane person with a healthy idea of death would want to be kept alive in such circumstances. Nobody should be.
With any luck, by the time you are reading this, Schiavo will be dead already. I hope this will happen soon. But I do not hope for her death because I am a murderer (unlike many of the opposition, I oppose the death penalty and the bombing of civilians) or because I do not have respect for life. Unlike them, I also have a respect for death.
If you fear your own death and want to do everything possible to avoid it, even at the expense of your soul, that’s fine. Do that. But no one has any right to do that to anyone else. Just as no human has a right to take a life of another, unnaturally severing the bond between body and soul, no human has the right to obligate life on another, unnaturally keeping the soul and body together.
Chaelan MacTavish can be reached at [email protected].