By Anne O’Meara
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
“Every so often, a disaster comes along that’s so catastrophically, unfairly, life-shatteringly ginormous the whole world sits up and pays attention. Most of them, like the Asian Tsunami or Spanish Flu, seemingly spring up from nowhere, trailing chaos in their wake. But, just occasionally, you get a planet-sized catastrophe that we’ve not only known about for years, but we’ve been too darn lazy to do a thing about it.”1
Over our lifetime, we ourselves have seen warnings of a “planet-sized catastrophe”—a catastrophe where the medically vulnerable have been marginalized and their civil rights have been stripped away by medical acts of cruelty. Sadly, these warnings have largely been met with indifference.
In the 1960s and 70s, the truth that every human life has equal worth was rejected by utilitarian-minded bioethicists. Many bioethicists do not adhere to Judeo-Christian moral principles. They have rejected standards of good and evil and embraced the secular notion of “usefulness”: those who do not “contribute” to society or who are considered inconvenient and/or costly to care for can be cast aside as physically or socially suffering and, therefore, “better off dead.” Patients who are perceived as being of “low value” frequently are given less care. Also, they are urged to fill out and sign medical advance directives or POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) forms refusing treatment, or to consent to do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders when such non-treatment orders are likely to result in their premature deaths. Medical futility policies (which allow a medical facility’s ethics committee to arbitrarily remove life-sustaining treatment against a family’s wishes), terminal sedation, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide are other examples of tools used to accelerate the deaths of medically vulnerable individuals.
Many of us remember the heartbreaking story of Terri Schiavo. In 1990, at age 26, Terri suffered cardiac arrest for which no cause was ever determined. She was placed on a ventilator until she started breathing on her own. She was also provided a PEG tube (i.e., feeding tube) to ensure she received nourishment and hydration. In 1998, Michael Schiavo, Terri’s estranged husband, petitioned a Florida court for permission to remove Terri’s feeding tube. On March 31, 2005, after a protracted legal battle, Terri’s feeding tube was removed by court order and she was dehydrated to death.2
“Terri’s death sentence, which not long ago would have been unimaginable, is now legal in all 50 states, and occurs every day in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices.“3
As I think about the eloquent words of Martin Niemölle, which appear at the beginning of this article, I find myself wondering, What if they come for me next?
Speak up and be heard. If we don’t speak up, nothing will change. For more information on this important topic, read Bobby Schindler’s powerful article, “Today’s Health Care and the Hypocritical Oath” (townhall.com). Mr. Schindler is the brother of Terri Schiavo, and he is also the founder and president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.
1 10 Deadly Warnings The World Ignored (greatestfactss.blogspot.com)
2,3 Terri’s Wish – Terri Schiavo
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at us19.campaign-archive.com/?u=11fef33b78869a4e9c3c270a4&id=074b959a2b.