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From Here, Where?


J.D. Pendry


In 1973, men decided when life begins in America.  Since then, we’ve denied life to more than 50 million defenseless humans.


I don’t know your feelings about Terri and don’t wish to sway you one way or the other.  I’ve done some soul-searching, read and heard much about her.  What I’ve found raises many questions for me, but provides few answers.  Before making declarative statements about the situation and the people involved, please do the same.  You must arrive at a personal answer that you can live with.


I sorted through the periphery issues on which most of us seem focused only to conclude that none of them matter, which may say more about us than can be written here.  Privacy, states rights, qualified guardians, spousal infidelity, judicial conflicts of interest, charges of abuse, persistent vegetative state versus limited consciousness, the judiciary versus legislators, on and on…you can find opposing and convincing arguments under each meaningless topic.  Terri put all of these issues in front of us, which may have been her mission, but you’ll not find, in any of them, what you need to arrive at an answer to the basic question.  The issue is life itself and the question is whether it’s worth living.  I tried, as you may have, to decide the question by projecting myself into it.  I decided I wouldn’t choose to live where Terri is.  Then, there was the fallacy staring me directly in the conscious.  Terri didn’t choose to be there and I don’t know where there is.  I only know where I am. 


Useless Eaters is what the Nazis called them.  I won’t recount the entire linked article for you.  Read it.  It’s worth your time.  The gist of it is that these are “lives not worthy of living.”  They are “incurable idiots” or “empty human husks” not capable of feeling and whose only contribution to society is the consumption of resources – useless eaters.  Here in America some once favored, and maybe still do, eugenics.  If you are deficient mentally or physically, we must cull you from the herd and not allow you to reproduce.  Some state laws once called for sterilization of the useless eaters – after all, we needed to clean up our gene pool.


In the Netherlands, euthanasia is legal.  They’re combining now, it appears, the Nazi useless eater theory with eugenics.  They’re euthanizing babies.  Read that again.  Allow it to sink in.  These babies were not euthanized because they were terminally ill.  No.  They were euthanized because they were going to live.  Someone determined that their lives, however, were not worth living.  Eugenic euthanasia.  According to the article, eight percent of infant deaths in the Netherlands are from euthanasia.


In America, we have 3,500 criminals convicted of heinous crimes sitting on prison death rows.  Most of them will die, well fed, from old age while their sentence is under endless appeal.  If one of them was about to be injected and someone turned up at a governor’s door with new evidence to consider, the governor would stay the execution while the new evidence was reviewed.  If this didn’t happen, all hell would break loose on the governor – and it should.  We need to resolve all doubt before we take a life.


I wrote my first thoughts for this column on Good Friday following a Church service about the seven statements Jesus made from the cross.  The one stuck in my mind as I write this is “It is finished.” John 19:30.  When Jesus made that statement, his earthly mission to bore the sins of humankind and save us for eternity was complete.  Again, I remind you that I’m no theologian, so please send your thoughts on my theological comments to the Chaplain.


Although my heart tells me her end is not as painless as some might have us believe, I think Terri’s mission here is finished.  My prayer is that she soon knows peace and that her family is comforted.  Other of Jesus’ statements from the cross are also my prayer for Terri, “I tell you the Truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise Luke 23:43 and “Father, into Your hands, I commit My Spirit.” Luke 23:46


There is an end to this story.  It may be a while coming, but when the time for sorting comes try to remember where you stood on Terri’s life.


"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  - Matthew 25:  34-36


In 2005, men decided when life ends in America.  From here, where?




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J.D. Pendry is author of The Three Meter Zone, Random House/Ballantine.


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