Lili and I have been having that conversation all married couples seem to be having: what to do if one of us is incapacitated, like Terri Schiavo.
It's not an easy question to answer, mostly because of the many factors that might be in play. We both have very different views, and it's impossible to predict the exact circumstances under which either of us might be.
I took the analytical, and maybe philosophical, road to my answer.
- First and foremost, cogito ergo sum, so if I were in a permanent vegetative state, there wouldn't really be a me there—just, well, shall we be blunt: a vegetable. (Yes, I realize this plays into some mischief on the part of my critics, who might insist that would be an elevated form of life than they attribute to me now) Under these circumstances, I'd say, pull the plug, and the religious conservatives be damned.
- If, on the other hand, there were a reasonable chance of recovery, to where the mind could return to sentience, obviously the choice would be otherwise. Of course, if doing so meant bankrupting my family, I somehow think that being homeless, destitute, but alive might lose some of its appeal. I do not hold that any life is better than no life at all. And unless the aforementioned conservative ninnies pony up the cash,with no strings attached, (something I'm quite certain they're too stingy to do,) they have no place in the decision process.
It all goes down to the question of freedom of will, in my mind. Who among us dares presume to know better than me what I should do? Religious zealots might be quick to point to chapter and verse how it is God's will, and so on, which is just fine ... for them. It is when they insist that their theological peculiarities should be imposed on me that I draw the line... so Mssrs Delay and Bush, with your sanctimonious rhetoric, go hang yourselves. Freedom to be exactly who somebody else wants you to be is not freedom.
I admit, the field of opposition is not limited to the right wing's religious zealots. More rational minds seem to hold that life—any life—is better than death, (which as I said, I don't agree with unconditionally.) They argue that though trapped and unable to communicate with the outside world, the mind may be experiencing a sort of personal bliss. May be. But then again, might that mind also be going through a private little hell—a nightmare that never ends? One would guess, with neurons firing haphazardly in a vegetative mind, the experience might be more Posideon Adventure than On Golden Pond. Could be.
So, we need to ask: by keeping a feeding tube in place, are we preserving life, or committing turture? We really don't know. Medical science doesn't have an answer, and seems to defer the question to the involved parties to live with the decision (or not.)
And my opinion—as this would apply to me—is, if you can't ask me, let nature take its course. A feeding tube is an artificial intervention, and interfering with the natural—or if you must, with the ordained—course of events...