Bayou Calvinist

A Somewhat Eclectic Discussion by a Law Student Concerning All of Today's Major Topics, as well as, a Few Not So Major Topics

Monday, July 25, 2005

Brady Responds

In response to my post of our conversation, Brady has sent me this response:

My main point with regard to the utilization of science to define human life is this: Independence does not now nor has it ever (within the scientific definition of life) been a necessary qualification for classifying something as a living organism. If it were, all parasites, including human children, teenagers, and many young adults would not be considered living organisms. (that is a joke by the way). To
summarize: Dependence does not negate life!
An interesting legal question to you though is this:
If there were a child, temporarily dependent on outside sources to breathe for him, to feed him etc... (in other words he is on life support). All doctors consulted agree that this state is only temporary and he will make a full recovery in only 7,8, or 9 months.
His mother however, being his legal guardian, insists that he be taken off of life support. Should the assessment of all of the doctors that this is only a temporary condition not constitute such an act as murder? Of course should and would are different questions in legal issues.
With regard to your thoughts on our differing approaches to our views on this issue, I agree that it probably is a function of two things on my part: 1) I am more scientifically oriented and consequently, the need for considering the implications of utilization of the Due Process Clause does not strike me as an issue of foremost concern.
Perhaps that is negligent on my part. 2) I believe in the truth of my stance on this issue so whole-heartedly that it is hard for me to even imagine the mindset of others who disagree with me.

In regards to his legal question above my response was:

Thanks for the response. As far as your very much points to the distinction between a scientific assessment and application of that assessment to public policy. In the example you give, both science and morality seem to coincide. But again to some (I don't know who) it may seem wiser to allow the mother to make the final call...especially if there is any disagreement in the scientific assessments. Add a few more wrinkles, such as the child will not need life support for the remainder of his/her life but he/she is badly brain damaged and will need someone to feed him/her (not a feeding tube) and change his/her diapers. To anyone looking at this from an amoral viewpoint an argument could be made that the child should be "allowed to die" (an argument which would only grow stronger if a universal health care system were ever may be seen as too inefficient to "waste" medical resources on this child when children capable of making a full recovery might better use those same resources). By insuring that the Due Process Clause is not used to force all states to follow federal opinion (read the opinion of the Supreme Court) on this matter, we ensure that at a minimum some states will retain a more moral view on these issues.


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