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TERRI SCHIAVO ? RIGHT OR WRONG PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 22 Rabi'ul Awal 1426
The major religions of the world ― Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Buddhism ― in a seminar in Cambridge in 1990, affirmed their “belief in the innate love for eternal values such as Truth, Justice, Righteousness, Love, compassion and care towards all creation, which the spiritual self of each individual is innately endowed with by God.”
Thus they all negate the false concept that man’s values are man-made and subject to change as society changes.


In fact, as Islam clearly posits, the moral dimension is one of the five dimensions of the Divinely ordained human personality (the other four being the physical, the rational, the aesthetic and the spiritual). However, since these dimensions constitute a dynamic, organic whole, any activity related primarily to one dimension, impacts positively or negatively on the other dimensions of the human personality.

It is in this context of objective moral values that we need to examine the respect for life. The One True God, the Ever-Bountiful Creator is the Originator and Source of all life. We, human beings, have no right, whatsoever, to take any life, except in accordance with God’s Guidance, or else, “ . . if anyone kills a human being, unless it be for murder or spreading mischief and corruption on earth, it shall be as though he had killed all human beings.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:32)

And He, the Almighty, has informed us in His Final Revelation, “Blessed be He in whose hand all sovereignty rests, and He has power over all things: He who has created DEATH as well as LIFE so that He may test you (as to) which of you is best in conduct, and He alone is Almighty, Truly Forgiving.” (Holy Qur’an, 67:1-2)       

In a world, saturated with callous disrespect for the sanctity of life by individuals, gangs, militias and governments, two recent cases demonstrate opposing attitudes.

In the first, a court in California (on November 12, 2000) convicted Scott Peterson for murder in the first degree in the killing of his pregnant wife, Luci, and of MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE in the killing of their unborn child  ― a powerful affirmation of the RIGHT TO LIFE OF THE UNBORN.

The second is the horrifying case of Terri Schiavo, who died on March 31, 2005, after nearly 14 days of court-imposed dehydration and starvation. Here was a young woman who collapsed in 1990 and was diagnosed with brain damage. Her husband, recognized by the Court as her guardian, over the years, blocked any re-diagnosis using modern equipment or even any MRI.
Even though she had had no meaningful therapy since 1991 (due to her husband), Terri Schiavo was not in a “persistent vegetative state” i.e., neither was she permanently unconscious, nor was there the absence of cognitive behaviour or purposeful interaction with her environment. Also she was not hooked up to any life-support machines ― ventilators, dialysis machines, heart-pumps etc.
All she needed was a simple feeding and water tube, because of difficulties with swallowing.

Yet over the years her husband continued to petition the Court to have her feeding tube removed and the Court, more specifically Judge Greer, agreed to this on a number of occasions. In February 2000 the judge ruled to remove Terri’s nutrition tube and he also denied a petition to allow her swallowing tests.
On April 24, 2001, feeding was terminated, but on April 26, 2001, another judge, Judge Quesada, felt compelled by new evidence to have her feeding resumed.

Again on July 23, 2001, Judge Greer ordered Terri’s feeding to be stopped. In Appellate Court ruling, ordering Terri to be neurologically tested, stayed the termination of nutrition. When the husband objected to medical and neurological testing, and the Court-appointed mediator failed to come to an agreement with the two sides as to which tests, Judge Greer approved only a few and denied the rest.

On November22, 2002, Judge Greer, once more, ordered the removal of the nutrition tube ― this time to begin on January 3, 2003. A stay was however granted pending appellate resolution. Then in September 2003 Judge Greer scheduled October 15, 2003, for the removal of sustenance and this was done, yet, again, Legislative intervention by the Florida legislature caused the resumption of feeding.

Finally however with the final termination of nutrition in March 2005, all the Appellate Courts refused to intervene, in spite of the US Congress.

And so it is that a physically viable human being, albeit brain damaged, who had no life-support machines, who visibly responded to love and affection from her parents and who had police in her room round the clock to prevent her parents from ever moistening her parched lips with a wet sponge, succumbed after being deprived of food and water for nearly fourteen days, on the orders of the Court. On March 31, 2005, the world witnessed, as Ralph Nader, the noted consumer-activist put it, a “court-imposed homicide.”

Surely, in the test of life and death, the wanton disregard displayed for the sanctity of life in this case, must render all responsible, accountable before the One True God. May God guide us all to that which is right, to that which I pleasing to Him.      
 

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