The Right to Life is Deserved by All

By David Schussler


The world is immersed in the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people as they are being massacred in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Thailand, Kashmir, and a dozen other countries. Thousands of infants are starving in other parts of Africa and India while even more are suffering from lack of basic medical attention in other impoverished regions. It seems incongruous that while these people are struggling for survival, we, in the United States are still debating the right to life and the right to death.

In 1991 the people of Sarajevo pled on international TV, begging the Serbs “please, we no longer want to suffer, just come and kill us and get it done with.” At the same time there were movements here in the US gathering food and supplies to keep those people alive. Why? Because Americans know how good life can be and the importance of the struggle for survival. It is inherent and natural. If those suffering people desiring death due to their circumstances were to take their desire to die before the courts here, what would they find? Federal court judge Barbara Rothstein of Washington State might suggest that they had a right to die according to the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Judge Rothstein states “choices central to the personal dignity and autonomy …. are central to the liberty protected by the fourteenth amendment.” She goes on to state that, “The rights of a terminally ill person are no less deserving of protection than a pregnant woman who wishes to abort a child.” (Supreme court decision of 1992 “Planned parenthood v. Casey). Contributing editor John Leo, in an article in the US News and World Report once stated “if (death) is a basic right, how can it be denied to those who aren’t terminally ill?”(Assisted Suicides Slippery Slope 1994).

Life is virtuous and real whether or not the law interprets it as viable. Noted physician and author Dr. Richard Selzer wrote “Horror, Like bacteria, is everywhere. It blankets the Earth endlessly lapping to find that one unguarded entryway, As though narcotized, we walk beneath, upon, and through it ….. and ….. we are like the newborn that carry immunity from their mother’s wombs. Exteriorized, we are wrapped in impermeable membranes that cannot be seen. Then, one day, the defense is gone and we awaken to horror.” The horror he spoke of was his discovery of fetuses that he encountered on a city street, accidentally dumped along with other “trash” by a local hospital. The horror would be no less to discover a brutishly slain family, a deceased malnourished child, or a headless victim of terror. Perhaps you could wake up one day to the horror that you have an unwanted pregnancy, or a terminal disease, or unbearable pain. Most of us are fearful of a long and painful death and the prospect of being kept alive, in pain, for years. “Dr. Doom” Jack Kevorkian certainly believes this and has taken it upon himself to be the self imposed life extermination assistor. As he goes in and out of jail, the courts are rather confused as how to interpret the laws and the constitution regarding his activity, just as they are having trouble regarding abortion. It is the same moral conscience of humanity that must deal equally with all issues of the right to life and death. In every case it is the hand of man snuffing out the life of another, regardless of purpose.

“Dignity” is a word thrown around by activists on all sides of all fences. Interestingly enough, most cultures of the world believe that suicide has no dignity. On the other hand, in India, there is a large faction hat believe it is not dignified to have female children and therefore abort all girls until a boy comes along. Sometimes they just kill the girls after birth. Leo expects in the wake of our apathy that the freelance killing of suicidal loved ones will someday occur, or that once doctors are licensed to kill, what jury will convict a spouse or other family member who kills a willing relative?

Have we become detached from the respect for life and the need to allow it to continue, even if it is a struggle? Who could watch the struggle of a fetus with clinical apathy, and who would stand around as experts quote population numbers while they stare at sonograms of unwanted birth types? What AIDS racked Haitian, Machete hacked Rwandan, or unborn Indian girl wouldn’t love the opportunity to struggle through as much of life as they can get before they choose on their own to give up their soul? The right to life is deserved by all.

Richard Selzer (b. 1928). The son of a family doctor, Selzer was born in Troy, New York. He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, and earned an M.D. at Albany Medical College in 1953. He wrote Rituals of Surgery (1974), a collection of short stories, and he subsequently published numerous essays and stories in such magazines as Redbook, Esquire, and Harper’s. These he collected in two volumes of essays, Mortal Lessons (1977) and Confessions of a Knife (1979), and a volume of essays and fiction, Letters to a Young Doctor (1982).In 1991, he contracted Legionnaire’s disease but went on to document his recovery in Raising the Dead: A Doctor’s Encounter with His Own Mortality (1994). In his writing, he draws upon his experience as a surgeon, and as one critic points out, he “forces physicians to think about the morality of medicine.”



Be Sociable, Share!