Krauthammer on Schiavo

Charles Krauthammer, who is himself a quadriplegic, has this to say:
Let's be clear about her condition. She is not dead. If she were brain-dead, we would be talking about harvesting her organs. She is a living, breathing human being. Some people have called her a vegetable. Apart from the term being disgusting, how do they know? How can we be sure of the complete absence of any consciousness, any awareness, any anything ``inside'' this person?

     The crucial issue in deciding whether or not one would want to intervene to keep her alive is whether there is, as one bioethicist put it to me, ``anyone home.'' Her parents, who see her often, believe that there is. The husband maintains there is no one home. (But then again he has another home, making his judgment somewhat suspect.)

     The husband has not allowed a lot of medical testing in the last few years. I have tried to find out what her neurological condition actually is. But the evidence is sketchy, old and conflicting. The Florida court found that most of her cerebral cortex is gone. But ``most'' does not mean all. There might be some cortex functioning. The very severely retarded or brain-damaged can have some consciousness. And we do not go around euthanizing the minimally conscious in the back wards of the mental hospitals on the grounds that their lives are not worth living.

     Given our lack of certainty, given that there are loved ones prepared to keep her alive and care for her, how can you allow the husband to end her life on his say-so?

Krauthammer makes it very clear that he's not happy with Washington's attempts to circumvent due process; it is, he says, a no-win choice between a legal travesty and a moral tragedy. Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Neo-Neocon.