Why Terri Schiavo Matters

The April 11 print edition of National Review carries a good analysis of the Terri Schiavo controversy beginning on p. 14. One thing they point out (as I've argued here - scroll down to point #3) is that the many questionable aspects of the Schiavo case lend substance to the "slippery slope" argument of pro-life absolutists. NR says it better than I can:
Opponents of assisted suicide have good reasons for persisting in efforts to save Terri Schiavo's life. But supporters of assisted suicide may have even better ones.

The opponents have always asserted that allowing assisted suicide at all, while bad in itself, would lead to further evils: that we would start by allowing people who want to die to kill themselves, but end up allowing the killing of people who do not want to die. If we were supporters of assisted suicide, we would want to disprove these predictions. We would want to make sure that safeguards are in place to prevent such abuse. Even if we granted that she said both that she did not want to be on life support and that she did not want to be in a coma, it would not establish that she would not even want food and water when she is not in a coma.

Terri schiavo has had no MRI or PET scan. Only a CT scan has led some neurologists to conclude that her cerebral cortex has liquefied; other neurologists [and radiologists - aa] dispute the possiblity of reliably making that inference from CT scans. Many of the initial demonstrations of fact under Judge Greer relied on the testimony of Dr. Ronald Cranford. He is certainly a medical expert; but he is also a right-to-die zealot who advocates the removal of feeding tubes for patients with Alzheimer's dementia. ...

I'll be posting some final thoughts on Terri Schiavo this Sunday. There is more to talk about here. It's not just Terri. There are people in nursing homes whose lives and well-being depend on our willingness to affirm the value of life. And yes, that is exactly what this is about. You do not have to be a pro-life absolutist (I am not) to sense that there is something very wrong here. I used to think the talk about a "culture of life" versus a "culture of death" was just a lot of right-wing rhetoric. Now I'm not so sure.