Terri Schiavo, as you’re no doubt aware, died this morning as the result of twelve days of starvation and dehydration.
I am not qualified to judge the actions of anyone involved in the situation, nor do I have a clear sense of what the “right thing” to do was in that particular case, but I know this much for myself. If it is acceptable to end a life, then it should be mandatory that the ending be as quick and painless as possible. Withholding sustenance strikes me as a horrible form of euthanasia. An overdose of painkillers, or a painless poison, would be far more merciful.
Years ago, long before she was diagnosed with cancer, my mother made me promise that, given certain circumstances, I would help her by ending her life. Those circumstances didn’t come about; instead, an aggressive, pervasive malignancy destroyed her body and took her life. But had those circumstances come about, no matter how much keeping that promise might have meant to me and to her, I do not think I could have starved her to death.
Again, this is in no way a comment on whether or not Mrs. Schiavo should have been allowed to die. It is simply a wish that we might make termination procedures more merciful, or else stop them altogether.