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Wade Heath: We’re too quick to pull the plug on life

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Posted: Saturday, July 22, 2017 3:30 pm

Do you remember the Terri Schiavo case of the early 2000s? It was the emotional right-to-die saga down in Florida where Terri herself was said to be in an irreversible vegetative state.

Her husband wanted to pull her feeding tube, making the case that Terri would have never wanted to be on artificial life support.

However, her parents questioned Terri’s diagnosis to begin with and wished to err on the side of life, even challenging her husband’s claims.

The battle played out for years in court, even reaching the federal level. The back and forth between the parents and the husband was troubling to watch. Both parties claimed to love Terri, yet both wanted very different fates for the woman who couldn’t speak for herself.

I’ll never forget the tense moment when a Florida judge ordered that Schiavo’s feeding tube be removed and sent local police to her hospital to ensure it was enforced. Public outrage was so extreme that throngs of protesters formed a barrier at the medical facility and then-Governor Jeb Bush had sent state authorities to seize Schiavo and have the feeding tube reinserted.

Realizing there was about to be a showdown between local and state authorities, the governor’s team pulled back at the last possible moment when local police doubled down that they would stop the intervention at all costs.

After more than a dozen appeals of legal decisions, Terri’s feeding tube was removed on March 18, 2005, causing her to die on March 31, 2005.

I was quite passionate about this story at the time. I had been writing for the News-Sentinel for two years at that point and even though I was just a teen, still growing, developing, and learning, I can say with absolute certainty that my position then is the same position I have now.

Every life matters. Every life that has a chance deserves that chance.

I’ve never gotten over the Schiavo case. It was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed due to the clear and present authority that our government can exert over whether a person lives or dies.

Even with the chief executive of the state involved and the national media making the saga story one on every broadcast and front page for most of the year, it still wasn’t enough to stop one judge from making the decision to kill someone who couldn’t defend herself.

Since then we’ve continued to struggle as a country over the sanctity of life. I’m always astounded at the types of excuses some in our society make in order to make it seem as though killing the living is acceptable under the right conditions.

Most notable and consistent in our modern times are the abortions performed by Planned Parenthood and the public money that is funneled to them for their services. “But it’s just one of many services they offer,” I’m lectured.


But one of their services is killing the life of someone who, like Terri Schiavo, had no way of defending themselves or pleading their case.

“It should be up to the mother,” is an argument that’s been shouted at me.


But what happens when a mother and father make the decision to keep their terminally ill child alive because they have hope there might be a way to save him but are told it isn’t up to them?

This is the case of infant Charlie Gard and his parents in the United Kingdom right now. Doctors are at odds with the parents that there is no way to help the baby and wish to give up treatment. The parents, however, are standing firm that they think there are still options and doctors haven’t done enough.

In the UK, when medical professionals move to stop treatment of a patient and don’t have the consent of the parents, they must get a court order to cut the proverbial lifeline.

As it stands, courts have ruled that Gard should be taken off life support.

Gard’s parents are doing everything they can to seek alternative medical evaluations for their child in an attempt to make enough of a case that the court should reconsider letting their child die.

It is a dark time when you realize that we have armies of protesters that will flood streets to rally for a “woman’s right to choose” when it means death, but when a woman chooses life for her child there’s not a single battle cry in her favor.

Instead of exhausting every option possible to save someone, our “civilized western world” increasingly rushes to pull the plug without another thought.

If this is the way society is moving, consider me to no longer be a part of it.

Wade Heath grew up in Lodi. Reconnect with him: www.facebook.com/wadewire

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