Christianity Today magazine associate editor Jeff M. Sellers spoke about Schiavo's situation with John Kilner, president of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.
What are the Christian ethical guidelines for deciding whether to remove the feeding/hydration tube from Terri Schiavo?
There are two important ethical considerations—the medical situation and the patient's wishes.
On the medical situation, the question is are we talking about something that can sustain a person's life; from a Christian perspective, that has to do with the sanctity of human life created in the image of God. That's something that we need to respect and protect. If we have technology that enables that life to continue, then that's a wonderful gift of God.
In the Schiavo case, there is a significant debate about whether or not there are any medical interventions available that would make a difference in her situation. It's clear that the feeding tube is making the difference between her being able to live or die, but there's another significant question: Is her condition truly a persistent vegetative state, or does she have what is sometimes termed a minimally conscious state, in which there's a greater likelihood that she could regain the ability to have more interaction with her environment? The only way to answer that question would be to actually use the therapies that are available to make a difference.
The original lawsuit many years ago, after this brain damage occurred, the husband, Michael, sued for malpractice in terms of the way the case was handled and he won an award, a portion of which went to him personally. But the major portion went into an account to pay for therapy. So it was thought that she was in a state where some therapies ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more