Friday, March 31, 2006

In Memoriam: Terri Schindler Schiavo

This year's March 31st marks the 1st anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death. She died of dehydration after being denied food and water for 13 days. Thirteen days! The cruelty surrounding her death circumstances was astonishing to the world: people have been known to fight for the right to humane death for prisoners on death row, and even animals.

Whether or not Terri was in a 'PVS' state, what she and her family went through was a cold wake-up call to respond to the growing voice that supports euthanasia, even involuntary euthanasia.

I don't know about my own country, but Singapore has Advanced Medical Directive that allows one to state that s/he should not be given "extraordinary life-sustaining treatment" in the event that one is incapable of making that decision (terminally ill or unconscious). I remember, many years ago—around '95-'96, our priest at the Cathedral spent months and months of homily to speak of this initiative.

I remember a story of a woman who was temporarily paralyzed and could not tell the nurses that she wanted to be fed (against a previously written directive) and not starved or neglected until death. When I look at this directive now, I wonder whether there are any directives that would protect my wish to be cared for (food & water & the rest) in the event that I become incapacitated?

I am sorry to hijack this thread about Terri; but I think everyone, even if incapacitated, has a role to play in their immediate family and in their circle of friends. The idea that fulfilment can be found only through fulfilment of self is distinctly self-centered. For what does our life mean if it is not to lived for others?

Cheers to Terri, who has lived her life to help her family fulfil theirs. May eternal light shine upon her, as we pray and act for the end of euthanasia.

Link: Terri's Fight

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