Tuesday, September 26th, 2006


The British journal Nature reported on some startling new evidence that those in a vegetative state may have an active mental state. MRI scans of a 23 year-old woman in an unresponsive state for five months, revealed similar brain patterns to healthy counterparts when she asked to imagine particular things such as playing tennis. (There has been mounting scientific evidence that those in a coma are fully aware of themselves, but unable to respond. Their immaterial spirit remains active and healthy, but is unable to express itself physically due to its damaged body.)

 

One would think this news would be cause for excitement, and spur those who support killing people in vegetative states to rethink their position. One would think…! Never underestimate a genuine liberal. Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe was anything but excited about this find. Goodman sees this—not as a reason to forego killing unresponsive patients—but rather as further justification for doing so. She writes:

 

[W]e do not know whether the researchers who suggest that vegetative patients may be aware of themselves and their surroundings have given us a hopeful story line or a horror story.

As University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan says, “It’s not necessarily good news that someone might have some form of consciousness but not be able to interact emotionally, socially or communicate in any way shape or form. To spend your life dimly aware but unable to let anyone know you are in there is more the subject of Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe than some sort of medical hope.”

No MRI can say whether that “rich, inner life” is a tapestry of hope or a nightmare. Which cliché fits a locked-up awareness? “While there’s life there’s hope”? Or “a fate worse than death”? The researchers, in all their enthusiasm, cannot answer the fundamental question that was raised by the Schiavo case: Would you want to live like this? Nor can technology with all its power tell us what is right and wrong, humane and inhumane.

Nearly a year after her accident, the British patient had advanced into a state of minimal consciousness. She could follow a mirror with her eyes. But no machine can tell her family or doctors whether she wanted to live “like this.”

Woman in Vegetative State Plays Tennis in Her Head. But is it a game or a trap?

You have to understand the force of this argument. Traditionally people in favor of killing people in a persistent vegetative state argue that it is morally acceptable to do so because the person is no longer conscious. According to personhood theory, consciousness is the sine qua non for defining human value. But here we have someone arguing that they should be killed because they are conscious! This just shows how unprincipled some liberals can be. Euthanasia is an ideology that must be promoted above all, even if it necessitates a changing of one’s principles. Ultimately euthanasia is about man determining what is best for himself apart from all moral considerations, and at times, what is best for others. God help us!

Euthanasia advocates seek to persuade the public toward their view by holding up the terminally ill and crying, “Have compassion.” What they don’t tell you is that their agenda involves much more than assisting the terminally ill in suicide. The terminally ill are just one step on a staircase that ultimately leads to death-on-demand.

 

One recent example of this can be seen in a Swiss euthanasia group, Dignitas. Dignitas has petitioned the Swiss court to be allowed to (legally) assist the depressed in suicide. The case will be heard October 27. (The Dutch already allow it)

 

The founder, Ludwig Minelli, said “We should see in principle suicide as a marvellous possibility given to human beings because they have a conscience… If you accept the idea of personal autonomy, you can’t make conditions that only terminally ill people should have this right. We should accept generally the right of a human being to say ‘Right, I would like to end my life’, without any pre-condition, as long as this person has capacity of discernment.”

 

He blamed “stupid ecclesiastical superstition” for the stigma attached to suicide. That’s the way to win friends and influence people!