The Culture of Death — Looking Back at Terri Schiavo

Public controversies tend to dissipate over time, and front-page news stories have a relatively brief shelf life. Given the pace of contemporary life, events come and go with a mind-numbing rapidity, and today’s front-page news may be quickly forgotten. Sadly, this has been the case with regard to Terri Schiavo. We need to go back and look at what really happened — and why.

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Terri Schiavo–Enduring Questions, Part Three

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.

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Terri Schiavo–Enduring Questions, Part Two

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.

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Terri Schiavo–Enduring Questions, Part One

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.

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Terri Schiavo–The Bell Tolls for Humanity

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.

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Euthanasia for Newborns–Killing in the Netherlands

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.

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“Million Dollar Baby”–Assisted Suicide at the Oscars

Clint Eastwood has emerged as one of the biggest names in Hollywood, with a score of awards for both acting and directing. This year, he’s up again for the Best Director award at the Oscars, and many Hollywood insiders believe Eastwood is the likely winner over his closest competition, Martin Scorsese. Scorsese, who has never won an Oscar for Best Director, was nominated for his film “The Aviator,” and is seen as a sentimental favorite for the award. Eastwood’s film, “Million Dollar Baby,” surprised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with its commercial success and artistry. Viewers of the movie are likely to be surprised by another feature of the film–its presentation of assisted suicide. The film tells the story of a female fighter, Maggie Fitzgerald, played by Hilary Swank, who achieves a meteoric rise in the world of women’s boxing. As many observers have noted, the first part of the film suggests little more than a female version of the famed “Rocky” films starring Sylvester Stallone.

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Civilization at the Brink–New Assaults on Human Dignity

Civilization is an achievement, not a fact of nature. In order for civilization to exist, certain convictions, structures, traditions, and patterns of life are necessary. As a matter of fact, civilization cannot exist without trust, an affirmation of human dignity, honesty, order, and a high view of human life and its value.

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Now They Want to Kill Children–Euthanasia in Europe

Reports out of Europe trace the advance of the Culture of Death as euthanasia is normalized and human life is progressively discounted. Now, two European nations are moving forward with plans to euthanize children, and advocates admit that the practice is already widespread.

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The Culture of Death and Its Logic

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.

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A Victory for Life in Florida: Will it Stand?

Terri Schiavo has won at least a temporary reprieve from the death sentence ordered by her husband. Acting upon emergency authorization from the state legislature, Florida Governor Jeb Bush ordered that Terri’s feeding tube and hydration be restarted, thus saving her from imminent death by starvation and dehydration.

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