One of the nasty little realities resulting from the Terri Schaivo case is that we are becoming more and more comfortable with bad definitions of what it means to be human. As I hear commentators and talking heads deal with what is at stake here, Terri is talked about in some pretty unflattering terms.
I have heard the argument made often that she is costing taxpayers a lot of money and should therefore be let go. Money is always a bad way to value human life.
The Daily Show mocked senators who referred to her by her first name on the Senate floor. Are they supposed to de-humanize her in order to make a political point? Isn’t that what many are doing to support her death?
As far as I have been able to tell, one of the fulcrum points for the court rulings has been the “husband’s” claim that Terri did not want to live this way. He first claimed this almost seven years into her current state and has since refused to relinquish legal guardianship to her parents and move on. There is absolutely no way of knowing what Terri really wanted or wants. So now we are down to what one person values in another person’s life. This is not all that different from the “every child a wanted child” abortion and contraception campaign of the 1990s. Apparently unwanted Homo sapiens are not quite human persons.
In my opinion, because we are loosing our understanding of human beings as special creatures among the rest of creation, we are loosing the ethical and moral intuitions that keep us humane.