Gen X’s Roe vs. Wade

As we commit this reflection to writing, Terri Schindler-Schiavo has spent the past five days without food and water. A federal judge refuses to grant the injunction requested by Terri’s parents. This injunction would see the handicapped woman’s feeding tube reinserted as the federal courts review her case.



Terri’s survival is now a matter of Divine providence. For even if her feeding tube was restored, only a miracle could prevent Terri’s organs from suffering irreversible damage after five days without nutrition and hydration.

All of the undersigned are Catholics in full communion with Rome. We denounce this slow and painful execution of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. We denounce this execution as gravely immoral, fundamentally unjust, and a gross violation of the Natural Law.

Pope John Paul II stated a little over a year ago that nutrition and hydration, even when administered through medical assistance, remain “a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.” In short, eating and drinking are common to every living human. “Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal,” the Holy Father continued. “In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission.” Thus we denounce the starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo as the deliberate euthanasia of a disabled woman.

Moreover, we denounce this execution as gravely immoral. The culture of death alleges that Terri is in a persistently vegetative state. We respond with the following proclaimed by the Holy Father: “Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a 'vegetative state' retain their human dignity in all its fullness.” In other words, Terri is a human person. She is part of God’s creation and she enjoys the dignity common to every human person. No human power possesses the moral authority to pass judgment upon Terri’s life. For as the Holy Father reminds us, “The value of a man's life cannot be made subordinate to any judgment of its quality expressed by other men.”

Euthanasia is neither a matter of personal choice nor a matter of private morality. “Whatever its motives and means,” article 2277 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “direct euthanasia consists is putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.” To this teaching, the Holy Father adds: “The evaluation of probabilities, founded on waning hopes for recovery when the vegetative state is prolonged beyond a year, cannot ethically justify the cessation or interruption of minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration.” In short, Terri’s disability and medical condition do not negate her essential dignity as a human person. Nor do Terri’s disability and medical condition limit her fundamental right to life.

Inside the Passion of the ChristEach of the undersigned was born during the 1970s. As members of Generation-X, each of us survived the abortion holocaust ensuing from Roe vs. Wade. A quarter of our generation did not. In the name of medical privacy and personal choice, a quarter of our generation found itself butchered in the womb. Abortion has claimed more lives among our generation than the combined effort of AIDS, drugs, and gang violence.

Yet our blood has not satiated the culture of death. In the name of medical privacy and personal choice, the culture of death now seeks the blood of our elderly, our disabled, and our terminally ill. Like Roe vs. Wade, the execution of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is a defining moment in the culture war. It sets a precedent whereby our society no longer judges our elderly, our disabled, and our terminally ill as fully human.

Terri represents every North American with special needs. In allowing an estranged husband to insist upon the execution of his disabled wife, and in allowing an activist judiciary to sanction such an execution because of the woman’s medical condition, we allow society to redefine the essence of our humanity. For society now judges each of us by our perceived productivity; our potential contribution to society must now meet some external quantitative standard. Otherwise society judges our quality of life as unworthy of quantity of life.

An old adage comes to mind: Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. This mistake is all too reminiscent of German eugenics in 1933, as well as the politics of abortion initiated by Roe vs. Wade in 1973. In our collective arrogance, we as a society refuse to learn from these mistakes. Thus we endanger the ten percent of our population with special needs. And if we may draw a lesson from modern history, what begins as reckless endangerment will soon entrench itself as social obligation. For as Fr. Richard John Neuhaus reminds us, “Where orthodoxy is optional it will soon be prohibited.” Conversely, we have learned from the culture war over abortion and the homosexual agenda that the opposite is also true: Where immorality is tolerated it will soon be imposed.

“First you kill those who want to die,” forewarns the American Catholic ecumenist Dr. Bill Cork. “Then you kill those whose family wants them to die, then those where one family member wants them to die, and then those whose families want them to live. Finally, you kill those who want to live but who get in the way of the state.”

The starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo is nothing short of a diabolical attack upon the delicate wonder and beauty inherent in human life. This includes the lives of the elderly, the disabled, and the terminally ill. It is a moral catastrophe of which the consequences will equal or exceed Roe vs. Wade. For in as much as we starve Terri of food and water, we starve our society of all that makes us civilized.

Pete Vere, JCL

Catholic Author and Canonist

Matt Abbott

Catholic Social and Political Commentator

John Pacheco

Catholic Author and Activist

Michael Trueman, JCL, MDiv

Catholic Author and Canonist

Shawn Tribe

Catholic Author and Social Commentator

Aiden Reid

Canadian Pro-Life Political Lobbyist

I. Shawn McElhinney

Catholic Social and Political Commentator

Paul Tuns

Editor, the Interim Newspaper

John-Henry Westen

Editor, LifeSiteNews.com

© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange

Pete Vere is a doctoral student with the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University. He recently co-authored Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (Servant Books) with Michael Trueman and More Catholic Than the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor) with Patrick Madrid. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Ottawa, Canada.

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