How do we determine whose life is worth saving? Whose life is more significant? No, I am not venturing into the Pro-Abortion versus Pro-Life debacle, having been on both sides of the debate. My only suggestion is to remind people, research can be flawed, even some long-term studies. The devil is often in the details. The loudest megaphones ensure these studies keep their lofty positions in science and academia, placating their most ardent adherents.
However, there remain far bigger questions, and recent discussions and arguments prompted me to pose them. What is the quality of a life? Who deserves the funds or other resources it may demand?
Last week, Janet Yellen was asked about the economic impact of a ban on abortion. Her answer suggested women would be set back decades without this form of reproductive regulation, that is helping women rise from poverty.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina viewed the Treasury Secretary’s words as “harsh.”
He clarified his mother, a single black woman, raised her son in “abject poverty” but with a positive attitude.
Was the quality of Senator Scott’s life diminished by his financial circumstances? I think not.
My single maternal grandmother came from a poor, first-generation, middle-eastern family. My mother and her brother were born out of wedlock with a philanderer who promised her the world. Although my grandmother tried to earn a living, it was supplemented by resources from the government. Unlike now, welfare requirements were stringent. No fillet mignon or manicures for her, but I digress.
With her paltry earnings, my grandmother received funds taken from others. Did she deserve to use taxpayer dollars? Should my mother have been born whose care depended on financial support from other Americans?
How about the disabled? Should they be kept alive? The ancient Spartans would say no. According to History.com,
“Infanticide was a disturbingly common act in the ancient world, but in Sparta, this practice was organized and managed by the state. All Spartan infants were brought before a council of inspectors and examined for physical defects, and those who weren’t up to standards were left to die.”
Some say such barbarism would never occur in the United States. I disagree. Certain states have suggested laws allowing pregnancy termination through the ninth month beyond reasons for the mother’s physical health. Other states have proposed bills allowing infanticide.
For example, the Maryland Senate proposed bill 669 to legalize infanticide up to 28 days after birth. It was soon altered, but should it not be a concern?
A California Assembly committee passed a radical bill, 2223, that legal analysts say would legalize infanticide, letting babies die up to 6 weeks after birth.
Are young lives born after nine months worth saving? What if they require more care because something went awry during or after birth? What if the parent decides they cannot care for the child in this late stage? How about if the child’s appearance is defective and needs corrective surgery with no guarantees?
What about disabled individuals through the lifecycle?
Adolf Hitler, remember him, the hyper nationalistic, big, big government megalomaniac?
He began his process of elimination with the disabled before moving on to the Jewish, Gay, Gypsy, and rebellious Catholic populations?
The disabled require many resources, and would suffer or die without expensive medications and procedures supplemented by the government.
Does the quality of their lives have merit? Are these human beings worthy of our precious supplies?
My husband is disabled. He worked since he was fourteen, maintained a small business for many years, and misses the dignity work offers. One of my amazing clients became a quadriplegic at age seventeen because of an accident during an athletic performance. He never complained in the ten years I saw him, nor did he give up hope, succumbing to death at age 42. Due to increased limitations, he surrendered employment and required expensive equipment and treatments. Should those have been provided to him?
How about the aging population? My mother required a very expensive drug to keep her alive in her early eighties. With the help of her oncologist, the insurance company paid for it. Although she died within the year, it prolonged the quality of her life. Should she have received a high-priced medication at that late stage of her life?
How about those enduring the ravages of diseases such as Alzheimer’s? Should these human beings, shadows of themselves, be kept alive and delivered care? Some would say no.
Assisted suicide is being pushed in certain states which I oppose. Some prominent professionals believe people need to die after a certain age. In 2014, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel stated he wanted to die by age seventy-five when age-related diseases develop, claiming he was not pushing euthanasia. He and I were born the same year. Let us see if he maintains his position in ten years.
In 2009, Robert Reich said the following about government-controlled healthcare for the aging, I paraphrase:
If you’re ancient, we will not provide technology and drugs for the last couple of years of your life to extend your life for a couple of months. It’s too expensive, so we’re going to let you die.
I wonder if Mr. Reich, now in his mid-seventies, would relinquish his fair share for the greater good, or does he follow the motto, “do as I say, not as I do?” I believe it would be the latter since federal employees were exempted from the Affordable Care Act. Yes, concerns for the masses need not apply to him.
Many years ago, I worked with unstable, chaotic families for the Department of Social Services, now the Department of Children and Families. Did some of these children rise above the unfairness of their circumstances? I can only hope.
I also worked in an organization that housed the most severe, challenged adults. This was back in the eighties. Now, in our more self-centered era, some might question the quality of these lives. Please take my word for it. Their devoted caretakers would provide a strong affirmative answer.
So it begs the two questions again: What is the quality of life and does that life deserve limited supplies? Also, who determines where life begins and where it ends, and to add controversy into the mix, what is a life? In the early stages of development, is it a bunch of cells? How about in the later stages, because of dementia, is the body a shell of nobody at home?
None of these questions have simple answers. Nor should they be glossed over. People often profess religion fuels these discussions. I would concur, but not alone. Many scientists and bioethicists inquire about these matters without a religious orientation.
My unsolicited but humble recommendation is to gain as much information as possible when making major decisions and ignore loud experts, declaring they have all the answers about life, what qualifies a life, and what entails a life.
The science is never settled, no matter what silver tongue exclaims it is.
Thank you for reading and considering.