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Friday, August 05, 2005

Maria Korp Dies from Forced Dehydration and Starvation

Marcel White reports in the comment boxes below:
 Maria Korp died on the tenth day after the removal of her feeding tube. Does that sound like someone who was teetering on the precipice of death before the removal of the feeding tube? Sceptics of this decision have been vindicated by recent events, including extended family crying for the feeding tube to be reinserted and holding prayer vigils for this purpose. The pro life movement could have used this instance to highlight our society's march toward unregulated euthanasia. Instead many chose the path of least resitance... I feel sorry for the so called moral leaders in our community who were 'deadly' silent on this case.
The first mistake we can all make is to take this in stride and not think about it deeply. Death is never trivial because a life is never trivial. Life is particularly non-trivial because, to the person who lives, what is left when life is lost? Maria Korp lost her life today but the legal ground that could have kept her alive was lost in 2003, when the public advocate of Victoria won a court ruling to classify food and water, when given in a feeding tube, as medical treatment. As a result, doctors now hold a unique power over human death because they now have the final say when it is, in their judgment, best to withhold food and water from a patient. Such a power is being exercised today, in the UK or the Netherlands, where doctors have, can, and will decide to terminate a patient, without having to consult family members, without fear of prosecution or public outrage. Make no mistake: Mrs. Korp's fate is hardly insignificant. Here we have a patient who was not hooked up to a machine, was not dying (before they stopped feeding her), was not in pain, and had been in a vegetative state for only six months. She was not brain-dead and was conscious enough that the public advocate confessed a need to speak to her about her impending death by dehydration and starvation. She was a devout Catholic whose beliefs against self-mutilation and suicide have been cited by her own husband. She had never expressed a desire to be terminated in this manner in these circumstances. Now she lies dead by the decision of a public advocate whose authority over her life was mandated by the state -- a mandate that did not have to go through legislative deliberation but is based on judicial interpretations of the Medical Act. It began with apathy. When society doesn't care enough to voice caution if not strong opposition on matters of death and the most vulnerable among us, just about anything can become lawful or normative. It began when people stopped caring for the elderly, disabled and dying, until it has become a cause for indignity and shame to be in such a vulnerable state. In an effort to regain the dignity that they deserve and crave, many have turned to the only momentous thing that they can still achieve: death. Unfortunately, that message is being amplified out of proportion, until death has become a preferential option, and life has lost its deserved high regard. Now society reads it loud and clear: there is no intrinsic value in human life unless it is wanted. Such value is now relative and subjective. But from whose perspective? And whose subjective right to decide will have the last say? When it is our turn to be euthanized, on such vague and ephemeral notions of indignity and even pain, would we have any say in the matter? When we become too feeble to speak and fight for our right to live, perhaps not.

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