Regarding Terri Schiavo, the woman whose husband won a court order to remove feeding tubes, I don’t know that I can give a definitive answer. It seems to me that there should probably be clear-cut directions from the patient before such a dramatic life-ending decision is made. It should also be evident that a person tuly is in a persistent vegetative state. In Terri’s case, there seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether or not she retains any higher brain functioning.
I do not, however, agree with those who claim that it is euthansia in each and every instance to withhold sustenance. Life is about more than tissue. I myself have a living will that provides that if I am in such a vegetative state with no reasonable hope for recovery that nourishment may be withheld. I would consider that the more loving position. Indeed, I might consider it cruel for someone else to prolong my life as an empty shell for the possible purpose of making a political statement about the value of life. If we are making a statement, we better pray and meditate hard that it is truly a faith pronouncement.
I’m not a supporter in any way of euthanasia. I don’t believe that it is morally acceptable to hasten someone’s death by the use of medicine or other artificial means. I’m also opposed under all circumstances to assisted suicide. However, there may be times in which artificially providing nourishment may actually impede God’s natural way of bringing life to a close. There is, after all, the hope and promise of something better in the beyond.
Some claim that we are playing God by ever permitting the denial of food or water to the sick. However, to keep the basically brain-dead alive with feeding tubes against a person’s wishes seems also a rather daring assumption of God’s rule and throne. It is incumbent on those who oppose removing the feeding tube to be sure that it is really life they are valuing and not their own self-righteousness.
Again, I’m not pronouncing my judgment on the Schiavo case particulars. She didn’t leave written instructions. The doctors disagree. In sum, I don’t know all of the facts. It does seem, however that there has been an unnecessary demonization of her husband, who clearly followed the law in seeking resolution for a real tragedy. In all regards, we should honor God as the author, creator and sustainer of life.