Sunday, September 16, 2007

Memo to Fred: Fight on Principle or Lose [SK]

Fred Thompson is now the latest GOP candidate to stumble over the moral logic of the pro-life position. He says he's withholding judgement on the Terri Schiavo case, suffice to say that issues like it should be left to local governments.

Perhaps Fred was just confused. If so, he's hardly alone. Indeed, the pro-lifers critiquing him better take stock of their own rhetoric.

For example, the most common remark I hear from pro-lifers about the Schiavo case is, "It's a shame they killed Terri--she might have gotten better." Or, when speaking of PVS patients in general, the reply goes, "You just never know, they might come out of it like that guy who was in a coma for 19 years."

True, they may come out of it. But that kind of thinking puts in place a premise that it's okay to kill people who don't improve. Truth is, Terri had no duty to get better. Her life had value as it was. Remember: The pro-life argument is that humans have intrinsic dignity simply because they are human, meaning Terri shouldn't have to get better to avoid being killed.

Michael Schiavo, of course, insisted Terri would never want to live in a disabled state. Well, maybe she did and maybe she didn't.

Who cares?

Seriously, since when is it morally acceptable to kill those who wish to die? That's the question that should have been asked. Suppose, for example, Terri was well enough to request that a doctor kill her. Would the state of Florida allow it? No way. State laws do not recognize your right to kill yourself, much less have someone else do it for you.

If human beings have inherent worth and dignity (which is the foundation for the pro-life position Fred Thompson allegedly espouses), the right to life cannot be wished away by anyone, including disabled persons who want out or local governments who want you dead. You don't cease to be human just because you want to be killed. That's what's meant by saying a right is "inalienable."

Maybe our "pro-life" politicians should stop trying to out-smart The Declaration of Independence.

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