The Final Chapter in the Pro-Life Debate

By Lloyd the Idiot

As an appropriate bookend to the latest round of debate over the beginning of life, there have been several stories lately about suicide by elderly couples, showing how decisions made at the end of life can be just as controversial as those at the beginning.  It also reminds us of the overreach of government, particularly by social “conservatives,” when it comes to our inevitable exit.

We all remember the Terry Schiavo case, and I won’t rehash the antics of mindless pro-lifers in Florida.  However, I hope you will recall also the Virginia equivalent to Schiavo (actually a predecessor) in which former Governor Jim Gilmore sought to force a wife to keep her brain-dead husband on life support, and then refused to pay her attorneys fees when she fought back and won.  I have never forgiven him for that disgusting, patronizing arrogance, and it’s exactly why I didn’t vote for him when he ran for Senate in 2010.  (Editorial Note:  The War Department has my advanced medical directive saying pull the plug.  And, boy, she just can’t wait for the opportunity).

In a slightly different vein are the assisted suicide cases.  As I mentioned above, and reminiscent of Jack Kevorkian’s escapades in the 1990s, several sets of elderly people decided to end their lives together and on their terms, including an elderly couple in San Diego who used a commercially available suicide kit.  The reason for their suicide wasn’t reported, but it really doesn’t matter either.  It’s their business.  Our role as a society is to encourage them to live and to help make their lives worth living, but, in the end, the decision to check out is theirs’ alone.

Putting aside all that, I’ll be so bold as to offer a practice pointer for a fulfilling life:  realize that, if you’re lucky, you have about 80 good years in you – and then work backward from there.  Figure out where you want to be at the end, what you want to achieve, what your priorities are, and plan accordingly.  Along those lines, I’m reminded of George Eastman, the inventor of roll film and founder of Eastman Kodak.  After achieving incredible success in his personal and professional life, then suffering from a painful degenerative spinal condition that he had seen consume his mother, he committed suicide.  He left a note that read, “To my friends: my work is done.  Why wait?”


  • Cato the Elder says:

    My advanced medical directive: “bring me my pistol”

  • David Dickinson says:

    Similar but very different. With abortion you have a unborn child who can’t speak for herself. With adults, you have people fully cognizant of what they are doing to him/herself. Vegatative state is a tricky one. Terry Schiavo responded to stimulous and would turn to her parents when they entered the room. She was murdered in a horrible way: dehydration.

    If you normalize assisted suicide, then you open the door for people to be pressured into it. Imagine big insurance companies who run cost benefit analyses on older patients and then create a marketing department to spin it so people believe it is in their best interests to end their lives (don’t do it for yourself, do it to relieve the burden on your family). I can see big bonuses for some creep whose job it is to get end-of-lifers to pull the plug early to stop costly medical expenses.

  • Puleese. Insurance companies marketing death?

  • We all die, and we all know that. In an odd twist on self-preservation, however, we too often ignore it. We ignore the fact that, for example, a surgeon’s heroics do not really save a life – it only prolongs it. Similarly, artificial life support systems do not keep a person alive forever, they only extend the heartbeat as well as the suffering of the patients’ family and friends. I think that’s where the social conservatives really go off the rails. As much as they want to celebrate the sanctity of human life, they ignore the fact that it has to end sometime. May as well make it as dignified as possible.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Lloyd, you don’t think the insurance companies would love this? Since the end of live has high costs with no chance of premiums in the future, they would figure out how to “incentivize” people to promote the end sooner rather than later.

  • I’m probably going to live a long long time, as most women in my family do. (Dead pan Monty Pyton, “and there was great rejoicing.”) But I would have no problem ending my own life if I thought it necessary, and I would want my husband to make the same decision for me, if it ever came to that. This is where having a Christian faith is actually helpful — I truly believe I’m going to a better place. I’m not exactly in a hurry to get there, but I’m not afraid of going, either.

    One theologian made the point that often a Roman crucifixion took many many hours, and even days before the person on the cross was dead. God didn’t see the need to put his own son through that, but allowed him to die relatively quickly.

  • Independent voter says:

    Who foots the bill to keep someone on life support for years? I don’t want to bankrupt my family to keep me on a ventilator. I believe there is a better place waiting for me on “the other side.”

  • Alan Moore says:

    So do you think preventing an abortion is just prolonging the inevitability of death? Just curious.

    I’m interested to know how you determine whether a defenseless human being incapable of speaking for themselves should live or die.

  • No abortion, please

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    I’m a firm believer in people setting their own protocols in stone while they still have all their marbles.

    For me a lot of it really is “simply because we can, SHOULD we?”, in that the remarkable advances in medical technology have allowed us to ignore the realities of death.

    We may look back a few centuries and remark on the morbidity endemic in much surviving writing, art, etc, but life WAS often nasty brutish and short, and people were quite well aware of that because they didn’t have technology to push it away with.

    They also didn’t have the technology to survive difficult childbirth, prevent childhood diseases, treat and survive heart disease, cancer, etc.

    Two edged sword, but again, best for sentient adults to make their decisions while they can, and clearly record them properly.

  • Elder Berry says:

    DD you’ve been drinking the fringe right’s Kool Aide on Schiavo. Do you honestly think the doctors and her husband would have taken her off life support if she RECOGNIZED HER PARENTS? Her brain was mush, man, they could see it on the scans. There was no thinking part of her brain functioning, none, no matter what wishful thinking on the part of her parents or certain right wing big mouths.

    The one they should have pulled the plug on was Cheney. Every picture I see of him now all I think of is the young people on the transplant waiting lists who could have gotten a full life but instead are going to die because he had to prolong his miserable sick warped existence.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    elderberry, thanks for yet another example of proper “tone”.

    As always, it’s instructive! lolol

    Lord, when will the President get off his duff and make you the Supreme Everything Czar?

  • Cato the Elder says:

    “prolong his miserable sick warped existence.”

    And yet, there are those who feel the world would be diminished by his loss.

    Just as it is by your continued presence.

  • I actually think organ donation is the more difficult, ethically, than either the abortion argument or the end of life argument. It’s not only because no matter how you decide, you are deliberately putting someone else at risk, but because of the way it’s set up, it is somewhat free market. By this, I mean, if you are someone like Steve Jobs, you can put your self on every list in every state and yes, you can fly your private jet to be there within the time frame necessary. Then it’s also oddly bound to government things — such as states that have motorcycle helmet laws are also likely to have fewer donors.

    But no matter what, it’s one of those subjects that is, well, difficult to pin down in a black and white point of view.

  • Wow. Just read yet another story of an elderly murder suicide. This time, it was the MWAA chief and his wife who was suffering from Alzheimer’s
    A particularly poignant note written three years earlier:

    “All of our lives, Dad and I have talked over our end of life beliefs. We are both in agreement that neither one of us wants to live after all reasonable hope for a good life is over. . . .We have had such a great life together and with all of you.”

  • David Dickinson says:

    What an incredibly bizzare twist to the discussion boards of tooconservative. This mixes the end of life with the Metro. Who would have thought those two lines would have collided like a couple of Metro trains during rush hour?!

  • I should say former MWAA

  • DD, we’re pros over here, and that’s how we bring it all together.

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