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Culture of Life
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A pair of articles in Slate today about the Schiavo case by Dahlia Lithwick and William Saletan.

First, Lithwick, who's all about spousal and state's rights, says in her first paragraph:

Whether Terri Schiavo will live or die in the coming days has come down to this: Can federal district judge James Whittemore set aside virtually every bedrock constitutional principle on which this nation was founded, just so members of the United States Congress may constitutionalize the nowhere-to-be-found legal principle that a "culture of life" is a good thing?

Okay, look, I'm not a frothing-at-the-mouth pro-choice bible thumper, but what exactly is the problem with a culture of life? What is a more "bedrock constitutional principle" than the right to live? Don't all other rights presuppose that one?

I'm a huge quality of life proponent. I watched my grandfather die of Alzheimer's and it was gruesome because it ate away his mind and his character. I do not want to go that way. If I were diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I would rather take my own life than live through something like that. That said, I want to be the one that makes that decision. Not a spouse and not a family member. I don't want somebody else making the decision on whether I live or die. It's too fundamental a right and too fraught with potential abuse. And in lieu of clear instructions, the presumption of the state should always be in favor of protecting a citizen's most basic right, life, should it not?

Saletan says that most people arguing for continuing Schiavo's life claim to know better than the doctors in the case, insisting that she's not actually brain dead. I'd never make that claim. I don't know. But he concludes:

I'm no more qualified to draw such conclusions than you are. The point is that once people like you, me, and Tom DeLay start second-guessing the judges, doctors, and families who know a case firsthand, it never ends. The "culture of life" becomes a regime of ham-fisted political reinvestigation that does for ethics what medieval barbers did for health.

Well, besides the point that her parents do "know the case firsthand", and that both sides have differing opinions as to her actual mental state, in the case of warring experts and emotions, which way should the state come down? As I said in the last post, the presumption should be in favor of life. If not, please tell me why.

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