Interview with Spiritual Leader
The results of the interview with a Catholic priest is presented below. The discussion was a longer one, but only the responses most pertinent to the topic are included in the following sections. “I” refers to Interviewer while “SL” refers to the priest or spiritual leader.
I: Are you familiar with the case of Dax Cowart and Terri Schindler Schiavo?
SL: Yes. I have followed Terri’s case on TV and I watched the documentary about Dax. Their cases have also been discussed by the book of McDougall & Gorman (2008).
I: What can you say about their injuries?
SL: They suffered so much even during the treatment stage. If I can remember correctly, Dax had to undergo more than 200 treatments.
I: Let us talk about Dax for a moment. Even though he survived he was begging to die, from the time he was found by the ranger immediately after the explosion throughout his treatments and afterwards. What is your view on this? I mean the “wanting to die.”
SL: I am absolutely against suicide, or assisted suicide for that matter. Life is a gift from God. He is the giver of life. He is the only one who can take away that gift. Every person has been created in God’s own image and likeness and to take away that gift is a grave sin.
I: Don’t you think that it was more compassionate to let them end the suffering, so that they attain peace and freedom from the pain.
SL: Of course, I do not want to see people suffer. Every one deserves to have peaceful and safe lives. Each one of us experience pain and tribulations. These are part of our experiences as human beings. We become better persons because of challenges. Perhaps at the time of the painful event, we might not see the purpose of these. However, God has a purpose for the things that occur in our lives. We are filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit which can help us transcend our difficulties in life. We need to have faith.
I: Dax’ mother was very religious and it was her as the proxy who decides about Dax treatment. Don’t you think she was imposing her beliefs on her son who did not want to be treated?
SL: His mother believes in the sanctity of life. As Christians, we have the obligation to lead others to the right path. I am convinced that she wanted to care for and protect her son, thus she helped him avail of the treatments. I don’t consider it as imposing her beliefs. She was acting for his best interests.
I: About Terri Schavio, what can you say about her case?
SL: I am extremely saddened by the decision about Terri. That was not morally right.
I: But, she was not having a quality of life. According to her husband, she would not want to have that kind of life.
SL: Terri, was a fully functional human being. She was able to communicate to her family. Her physical body was healthy and she was responding to the love and care her family gives. I do not agree that she wanted to die. She was a person with a disability.
I: Do you think care for Terri should have been given back to her parents and siblings?
SL: Yes. Her family or her blood relations would only want the best for her. For them, she is a gift and her family values the sanctity of her life.
I: What can you say about the court order to take off the tube?
SL: My belief is that nobody has the right to take away another person’s life. In the case of Terri, it was very heartbreaking. You can see the images of the healthy human being and then you hear there has been an order to take off the tube that enables her to continue living as a person. And to think that there were people who genuinely and willingly would want to continue to take care of her. I was shocked by the decision to end the life of someone as vulnerable as Terri. Jesus has taught us to be merciful, to take care of the weak and the needy, not to kill persons with disabilities.
Interview with Friend/Neighbor
The results of the interview with a friend/neighbor is presented below. The discussion was a longer one, but only the responses most pertinent to the topic are included in the following sections. “I” refers to Interviewer while “FN” refers to the friend/neighbor.
I: What is your opinion about euthanasia or mercy killing?
FN: I think it has its advantages. It is one way of ending a person’s suffering. I think I agree to euthanasia, but only for extreme cases. Like there’s no way that a person would ever go well. That continuing to exist would only make the suffering, pain, and humiliation continue. I think its keeping one’s dignity intact in a way.
I: Do you know the case of Dax Cowart and Terri Schindler Schiavo?
FN: Yes I do. I’ve heard about it. I think I watched the media interviews about the Terri case.
I: Do you think Dax should have been allowed to die? He wanted to, he asked for it.
FN: I believe the person who has experienced the injuries should be listened to. He was already an adult when that thing happened. He knows his capacities. I think he knows the severity of the pain and how much he can tolerate. Having him undergo treatments that were like torture was inhuman.
I: But he got well, he recovered from all those. Don’t you think his mother made a good decision?
FN: It was not her life. It was his son’s. His wishes should have been recognized. Of course, no mother would want to see her child die. I understand where she is coming from, I am also a mom. She will do everything to keep her alive. Mothers would hang on to that very little thread of hope just to see someone they love live.
I: What about Terri’s case? Do you think it was the right decision, I mean taking away the feeding tube.
FN: Oh, I was hurt by that decision. They don’t have the right to decide for her life. Her husband already had moved on. He should have been removed from the decision process. Blood relatives, parents and siblings, were willing to care for Terri. She was responding to them. There was her family and it was just ironic to see that they have to fight the system to be able to care for the person that they love.
The interviews of the spiritual leader and of the friend/neighbor illustrate the complexities surrounding the issue of euthanasia. The decision of whether to pull the tube or continue treatment would always result in a dilemma. These interviews have shown opposing views, particularly in the case of Dax. The spiritual leader favors the decision of Dax' mother to continue treatment despite Dax’ objections. In contrast, the friend/neighbor does not agree with letting Dax mother decide because for her Dax should be listened since he knows his capacity to bear pain and suffering. Here the value of sanctity of life goes against the value of self-determination and freedom to seek treatment or not. These opposing views show that in a dilemma, it is very difficult to decide what value is prioritized. In the case of Terri however, both interviewees agree that Terri should not have been allowed to die because she is a person who knows her family and is able to communicate with them. Both interviewees believe that the value of the sanctity of human life should have been upheld in Terri’s case.
McDougall, J.F. & Gorman, M. (2008). Euthanasia, 2nd edition. Sta Barabara, CA: AB-CLIO Inc.