Terri Schiavo Anniversary Reminds Pro-Life Movement to Tackle Euthanasia, Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo Anniversary Reminds Pro-Life Movement to Tackle Euthanasia, Suicide

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 31
, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: Steven Ertelt is the editor and CEO of LifeNews.com, the pro-life news service that reaches 250,000 people each week. Contact LifeNews.com for online or offline reprint information for this editorial.

It’s hard to believe three years have passed since the terrible euthanasia death of Terri Schiavo, a beloved daughter and sister whose husband won the legal right to kill her. Her death is a reminder to the pro-life community that grisly practices like euthanasia and assisted suicide should be tackled with the same fervor as abortion.

As pro-life people we often like to tell the public — especially the mainstream media — that we’re "pro-life" as opposed to "anti-abortion" because we have a great respect for the right to life of people both before and after birth.

Yet, until Terri Schiavo rose to national prominence, the pro-life movement spent most of its time addressing abortion.

Even now, a scan of the crowd at the annual March for Life — ostensibly on the anniversary date of the infamous decision allowing the genocide known as abortion — reveals a sea of anti-abortion banners and few dedicated to the elderly, the infirm, or disabled.

That’s not to say the pro-life movement is without its heroes on the forefront of the euthanasia battle.

Courageous leaders like Rita Marker, Wesley J. Smith, Joni Erickson Tada, Mark Pickup, Alex Schadenberg, Mary Jane Owen and Tom Marzen helped formulate the views I and millions of pro-life people have on end of life issues thanks to their passion and sound analysis.

The inspirational words of Pickup and Owen in particular have moved me about the plight of those threatened by euthanasia in ways I never could have imagined when I first got involved in the fight for life.

As a teenager, I appreciated the pro-life perspective on bioethics topics, but I never truly understood its importance until they drove the points home with more bravery and resilience than I could ever muster as person blessed with good health.

Sadly, pro-life Americans aren’t as riveted by the brutal and tragic deaths from euthanasia and assisted suicide as we are by the 50 million killed by abortion.

Local pro-life groups and national pro-life events mention euthanasia in passing, and our literature, our advertising and our focus is on education and legislation and candidates who are pro-life on abortion.

I don’t point the finger at anyone because the blame falls on my shoulders as well.

Glancing back at my own March for Life speech, I spent so little time talking about our elderly and disabled friends as I did our young ones. The LifeNews.com articles we write are more heavily focused on abortion.

Perhaps it’s because abortion affects more lives in the long run, but the tide is turning.

As aging populations across the globe reach the time in their lives when critical life and death health decisions are made, more countries are looking to follow western Europe nations in legalizing euthanasia.

In the United States, we’ve held the pro-assisted suicide forces at bay for years, but the floodgates could easily open for more states to duplicate Oregon’s statute.

And while the laws slowly change, the actual practice of euthanasia in hospitals and nursing homes around the world is nothing new. Medical personnel have taken the lives of patients long before Huxley’s Brave New World came upon us.

So while I’m grieved and saddened that the Schindler family was forsaken by American jurisprudence on March 31, 2005, I’m glad that God, in his infinite wisdom, opened the eyes of the world — as well as the pro-life community — to the destruction of human life in the name of so-called compassion.

We must draw on the lessens from Terri’s brutal 13-day starvation and dehydration death.

We must elect pro-life candidate who care about the protection of human life across the board and we must pass laws that give patients the medical care and treatment they deserve.

But that’s just the beginning.

The pro-life movement has an obligation to speak up for the Terri Schiavo’s of the future and millions of people around the world are at risk.

Churches, doctors and other health care professionals, disability rights groups, and pro-life organizations must continue to work together to educate the public and to educate ourselves.

With so many Christians and pro-life people who are still pro-life on abortion but tolerant of putting grandma "out of her misery," our educational efforts need to start at home. We must put forward the principle that everyone deserves the right to live regardless of age or quality of life both before and after birth.

So, on this special day, as we honor Terri Schindler Schiavo, her parents Bob and Mary, and her brother and sister Bobby and Suzanne, LifeNews.com commits to working with them and working with you to raise the pro-life banner just a little bit higher.

We will redouble our efforts to place more focus on the pro-life battles of fighting assisted suicide and euthanasia. We will rededicate ourselves to standing up for those who need an advocate and educate and inform you on how you can participate.

We hope you’ll join us and join them today in honoring Terri’s memory and remembering her words: "Where there’s life, there’s hope."

To get involved in the fight to protect patients and people from euthanasia, visit the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation.