Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Deciding who lives and who dies

Catholicism, life issuesEmily DeArdoComment

First, we have some OP Power, from Fr. Thomas Petri, who is the Academic Dean of the Dominican House of Studies in D.C. 

A sampling: 

Do we lose something, as a people, when it not only becomes legal but also expected that those with terminal illness should “choose” to die? If the European experience tells us anything, it is that those expectations willinevitably come. As clinicians morally coerce patients to end their lives (or impose that choice themselves) they will say that such is the caring thing to do, to free the friends and family who would otherwise be bound by responsibility. Yet no one is an island. It’s okay to be dependent. And though it’s difficult, we each know we owe constancy to those who need us the most.

This is one of my hot topics, obviously. In some countries, I'd have been aborted, using today's technology. I am genetically imperfect in a variety of ways. I have CF. I have thalessimia minor--and in Cyprus, babies with thalessimia are aborted, to the extent that there aren't new babies born with it. * 

I've been dependent on other people for most of my life, and I will continue to be so. I can't use a phone, so my parents have to make any necessary phone calls for me. My parents pay for my medications that keep me alive, because my salary is so low that there's no way I could pay for all my health care and live independently. My mom accesses my port every month. My life is totally dependent on the drugs I take. Without them, I'm not here. Heck, I'm only alive because someone decided to donate her organs. Like Blanche Dubois, I exist on the "kindness of strangers." 

Is it great, all the time? Well, no. I'd really like to be able to use a phone, but I like being alive more, so I don't begrudge--too often--the drugs that made it necessary for me to have the bionic ear. 

By my count, I've been close to death about five times. I've had some pretty unpleasant hospital experiences. (pH probe, chest tubes--I'm looking at you!). But never have I wished, in those moments, that I wasn't alive for them. 

"Princess, life has it all over death!", The Engineer tells Kim in Miss Saigon. And that's true. Life is the greatest gift we have. It's not perfect. No one's life is perfect. There will be pain. There will be suffering. It's guaranteed. We cannot prevent it. We cannot remove it. 

A fulfilling life isn't about what you can do. Life is precious because of what it is. We are created in the image and likeness of God. The angels envy us. No matter what we can or cannot do, physically or mentally, the most vulnerable among us need protected. Not snuffed out. 

 

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* for the Cyrus stat, from Wikipedia: A screening policy exists in Cyprus to reduce the incidence of thalassemia, which, since the program's implementation in the 1970s (which also includes prenatal screening and abortion), has reduced the number of children born with the hereditary blood disease from one of every 158 births to almost zero.[