• Death •
March 31, 2005
The sad case of Terri Schiavo has been a wake-up call for many Americans, and has brought to public attention the complex of medical realities and moral decisions that characterize our postmodern age. Medicine has made remarkable advances in recent decades, but cases like that of Terri Schiavo remind us all that medical technologies and medical knowledge have limits, even in this age of modern marvels and life-saving treatments. Beyond all this, the case of Terri Schiavo underlines the inescapably moral character of medical treatment and decision-making. Once again, enduring questions remain.
March 30, 2005
The feminist movement championed the motto, “The personal is the political.” This is certainly true in the tragic case of Terri Schiavo, whose personal reality–having her life terminated by a judicial decree–has become one of the nation’s hottest political issues. The issues swirling about this debate are both urgent and enduring. How society answers these questions will frame, not only this nation’s approach to matters of life and death, but the moral character of this civilization. Yesterday, we considered the questions, “What does this mean for the culture?” and “What does this mean for the future?” Today, we turn to consider even more enduring questions brought to light by Terri Schiavo’s case.
March 29, 2005
Even as Terri Schiavo edges closer and closer to death, the questions posed by this tragedy represent long-term challenges for this culture and its moral conscience.
These questions will not go away, even as the headlines and media attention inevitably subside. Issues of life and death confront us all, and the court-mandated death of Terri Schiavo will, I believe, go down as a landmark on America’s moral landscape. Her death will either lead to a recovery of moral sanity or a further slide into a moral abyss. Several vexing questions frame where this culture is headed.
March 28, 2005
America has been transfixed by a constant flow of media attention to the issues swirling about the case of Terri Schiavo. Meanwhile, Terri is starving to death in a Pinellas Park, Florida hospice–her imminent death demanded by her husband and enforced by the courts. This tragedy has become far more than a media phenomenon–it is an alarming barometer of America’s moral conscience and view of human life.
March 18, 2005
March 14, 2005
Advocates for euthanasia routinely chide opponents that “slippery slope” arguments are fallacious and irrelevant. A decision to allow euthanasia in some cases, they say, does not in fact open the door for the killing of yet others. Tragically, however, the “slippery slope” argument is neither fallacious nor irrelevant, as recent developments in the Netherlands have made graphically clear. Once doctors are allowed to choose death over life, the resulting Culture of Death will inevitably discount human life in other contexts as well.
February 28, 2005
The fear of infectious diseases is, for the most part, a relic of times past. In the great age of antibiotics, we fear few diseases, and Americans are more likely to suffer death by accident than death by infectious disease. We can all too easily forget that such diseases have been some of history’s great killers–and can be again.
February 25, 2005
The word out of New York City is truly ominous–a new and potentially more aggressive form of the H.I.V. virus has been reported by medical authorities. In the report issued just this month, New York City health officials revealed that they had identified what appears to be a new strain of H.I.V. in a single individual whose case, according to The New York Times, was “particularly worrisome because it merged two unusual features: resistance to nearly all anti-retroviral drugs used to treat the infection, and stunningly swift progression from infection to full-fledged AIDS.” As the officials warned, this new combination could represent a new front in the war against AIDS and a new challenge to medical authorities.
January 5, 2005
The photographs and images are now seared into our consciousness. One of the most troubling aspects of the disaster in South Asia is the death of infants and young children. Moving at the speed of a jetliner, the walls of water fell on the young and the old alike–and so many of the youngest were simply swept away.
May 12, 2004
Nobel laureate James Watson suggests that it is high time we face up to the meaning of genetic engineering. Watson, it will be remembered, was one of the co-discoverers of the DNA molecule–the achievement recognized by the Nobel Prize.
May 11, 2004
The Culture of Death is the culture of the lie. The lies include a denial of abortion’s reality–the killing of an innocent human life. Yet, it is not just lies about abortion. The sinister untruth extends to euthanasia–the big lie about “the good death.” The so-called “Dutch cure” that has now found a home in America is not an issue in the ambiguous, uncertain future. It, too, is focused in the very concrete present.
May 10, 2004
The twenty-first century presents the human race with unprecedented challenges to human dignity and the sacredness of human life. Respect for human life and an affirmation of human dignity are inseparable. Where human life is not respected as a sacred gift, life itself will be debased and devalued–and eventually it will be negotiated away by the culture of death.