Before her recent death with the assistance of a prescription of barbiturates, Brittany Maynard, who was terminally ill, made public her hopes that this would be a watershed moment for the movement to make choices such as hers legal in all of the U.S.
I can understand some of the reasoning of that campaign, even if I don’t agree with it.
Since most people today die of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke or dementia, and many live with these diseases for years, this handbook will be enormously helpful for pastors, patients and families. The book gives compassionate and sensible guidance to those seeking to negotiate the difficult spiritual and medical terrain that surrounds the experience of dying.
As Jack Kevorkian was released June 1 from a Michigan prison after serving eight years for second-degree murder in the assisted death of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease, new polls suggested that his cause retains strong support.
The Terri Schiavo case highlighted our worst fears: the loss of autonomy, the burden of care put on family members, a painful private decision splayed before the press and the public, and, most profoundly, seemingly needless suffering. Whatever else it does, the case should impel Christians to reexamine fundamental beliefs about care for the severely disabled and those at the end of life.
Like March Madness in the basketball world, participants in the debate over Terri Schiavo seemed driven to pick a team and root it on to victory, vanquishing the opponents. With her death, it’s time to put the madness behind us and attend not just to the passion but to the compassion on both sides of the debate. Both sides, after all, claimed to be on Terri’s side.
The Terri Schiavo case stirred much moral controversy over what constitutes ordinary care for the dying and what respect we should show for the wishes of the dying. These are serious matters, not discussed often enough. But there are other important moral and medical issues that were widely ignored in the debate.