US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Why euthanasia will someday be legal

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

News today that should scare the hell out of anyone who wants to die in peace: British scientists have discovered "cognition" in a vegetative patient. Actually, they have found a single person out of 54 patients who seemed to be able to respond to a yes or no question as measured by an MRI, according to Popular Science.

I realize this may encourage some at the "natural death" end of the prolife spectrum, but I find it more to be a sign of our denial of death. The news here is that most of the patients indeed show no brain activity. One, through the use of incredibly sophisticated technology, seems to be answering yes or no questions. But is this a human life? Not by any measure I am aware of.

Hence the title of this blog: This kind of thing is terrifying to most people. To be paralyzed, minimally conscious, and experimented upon, chained by feeding tubes and machines to a broken body. This is why some people campaign for the right to end their own lives and to seek a physician's assistance in doing so. I think that's a bad idea for all kinds of reasons--people will stop trusting their doctors, some may be encouraged or feel compelled to end their lives because they feel like a burden--but the fast pace and lack of ethical reflection on the part of medical science is going to get us there faster than we think.

Our church doesn't need to be encouraging this sort of thing. We should be helping one another accept death--our own and of those we love--rather than promoting some medical-technological limbo as "prolife." It is the opposite.