Here's a great piece on the sad story of Terri Schiavo by Rubel Shelly, who's spent lots of time and research looking into Christian faith and medical ethics. (He has a longer version that I hope will soon be on the Wineskins website.) Death isn’t always The Enemy Terri Schiavo suffered massive brain damage 15 years ago when, at the age of 26, her heart stopped beating. That event left her brain deprived of oxygen for an extended period. Since 1990, she has been in what medical literature calls a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS). She is no longer in contact – either by intellect or by will – with the world around her. As with most people in their twenties, Mrs. Schiavo had not documented her wishes as to whether she wanted to be kept alive under such an unlikely set of circumstances. Her husband, Michael, says she communicated her wishes to him more than once. But her parents refuse to accept his account. Seven years and 19 judges into their bitter family wrangling, the judicial system said it is acceptable to discontinue life support and to remove a feeding tube that has been keeping Mrs. Schiavo’s body functioning. But the Florida legislature substituted its judgment for the process that has been playing out, and now the U.S. Congress has acted in similar fashion. Ironically, a coalition of conservative religio-political groups has pushed for this intervention – after howling for years about the dangers inherent when lawmakers take it on themselves to intervene on organ donation, abortion rights, or what constitutes appropriate medical treatment for a terminally ill child. Not only physicians but the rest of us are smart enough to know the difference between protecting, enhancing, and empowering a human life with reasonable hope of recovery and merely prolonging the process of dying. Skill and technology that do the former are admirable and ethical; the same skill and technology used for the latter are unnecessary and ill-advised. Maybe a key issue here is our common insensitivity which fails to see that what is best possible treatment for a person lacking higher brain function is not always the most treatment possible. The idea that an emotional observer’s faint hope of another’s recovery can trump peer-reviewed medical judgment under extensive court scrutiny over years is simply irresponsible. Death is sometimes an ally instead of an enemy. Perhaps death itself needs to be reconsidered by all of us. It is not an absolute evil. It is sometimes an instrumental good for those without reasonable hope of recovery. Sometimes the real evil lies in forcing someone to endure existence that is no longer really life. Regardless of your take on this controversial case, your most responsible personal reaction to it is to document your own wishes about end-of-life decisions and then to share it with those closest to you.