This interesting article from the BBC mentions that an California businessman has offered Michael Schiavo One Million Dollars if he will forgo removing his ailing wife's feeding tube.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this story, except to proliferate its approach. Since I've been reading the book of Genesis I have developed an acute awareness of life's sanctity. But this case is especially interesting and complex. Here, you have a husband who would rather see his wife die (reportedly, she would have wanted it that way) and a coalition of doctors who say she is in a persistent vegetative state from which she will never recover. On her parents side is a team of doctors who says that tremendous progress has been made in speech therapy to which Terri is responsive.
And caught in the middle is an at least partially paralyzed woman who for the past 20 years has been alive in this world yet in a state no one would ever wish. The strange thing is that there are no obvious ways of viewing the problem- one question is whether or not Terri would like to be kept alive. A second question, involves the ethical implications of making any decision. One school of thought says that the cessation of certain parts of the brain signal the end of life. Others say when the heart stops beating life concludes. All decisions made in this process are conflated with the question of whether or not Terri is actually alive.
My own impulse is that life is sacred and that it should be preserved. On the other hand, I can't say I approve of the businessman's offer of One-Million Dollars in exchange for Terri's life. But I do think there's some measure of proactivity about him which I appreciate. While right to life activists protest and pursue legal methods of preserving Terri's life, here's a businessman who takes what he knows best (cash) and attempts to do his part to save her from certainly a painful death (though some would argue that since her brain is not functioning she would feel no pain).
It's complicated. There are no easy answers except the right answer. My own sense is that one should err on the side of caution in cases where there is no clear right or wrong. Perhaps this is my conservatism speaking. In this case, ascertaining Terri's wishes is an impossibility so the logic follows--why gamble by ending her life without knowing for sure whether she would want to die in this situation? After all, if a mistake is made, the person who stands to lose most is not Michael Schiavo, the businessman, or the parents--it is Terri.