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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

 
Well, you were right. Terri Schiavo's brain was nothing more than a puddle of rice pudding and as it turned out there was no harm in letting her rest in peace. Before I go further, let me just say I hope to whatever diety is puppeteering this crazy world that I would have wanted the plug pulled--my family and friends know this. Oh, and it's written down too just in case my loved ones are as susceptible to media spotlights as I suspect.

Since the focus here is to debate when human life starts we might as well discuss when human life ends. I know--it ends when you die. But when are you really dead? Until very recently in the course of human existance there lots of things that would ensure you were dead-dead but now you can live through having nail guns go off into your brain...your internal organs wearing out...smallpox...you see where I'm going. My point is that before the ink dries on your hand-lettered "We Rule. You Suck." signs consider this: What part of the human being has to be lacking (or deficient) for it not to be a human life? In the article mentioned above, the autopsy revealed Terri was blind. I know someone out there is saying, "See, we told you she couldn't see the parents waving at her and those responses were coincidental". To you I say, "you're right". She couldn't and it was coincidental. But since when does being blind make you not a living human being? I don't think Stevie Wonder would be too happy upon hearing this news. What about other senses? My boss has anosmia (fortunate on the days I don't shower) but I can assure you that he'd be pretty upset to hear he wasn't a human life.

I still haven't answered my own question regarding what parts are necessary for a human being to be alive. We need two things (and the latter you can make a case against if you really want to): a soul and some sort of soul-storage system (like a body). Let's say we have this living human being out on a table. Being the sadists we are, we lop off all the apendages. Still a human? You betcha--with modern science this person could probably even live a respectable life. Now, we take away all six senses. Still a human being? I would have to assume so since people have a tendency to overcome adversity. So now we essentially are left with a head and torso with very limited communication skills. Just in case anything is left, this human being is now in the late stages of MS and voluntary muscle control is gone. This person now is incapable of any sort of communication. Do we let him/her/it die now? Assuming "normal" vital signs, h/h/i is very much alive and for all we know in a very peaceful place. When do WE decide that WE know when enough is enough? We are certainly an arrogant beast.

So liberals, enjoy your victory while we lick our wounds. We'll be back.

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