“While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.” — Matthew 13:25-26
The culture of life landscape looks like the field in the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds. Changes on the Supreme Court might produce an end to Roe v. Wade; Terri Schiavo’s starvation death raises the Grim Reaper of passive euthanasia.
As Schiavo’s starvation is a given, and Court changes only a possibility, the weeds appear to be taking over.
Commentators have wondered: Has the ghost of Dr. Walter Sackett come back to haunt us? Dr. Sackett was a physician and a Florida legislator; he is credited with offering in 1968 the nation’s first death with dignity proposal.
In a March 10, 2005 editorial in the Arlington Catholic Herald, Ken Concannon wrote about “The Right to Kill: From Sackett to Schiavo.” As his editorial was written shortly before Terri Schiavo died, Concannon concluded: “If Terri dies by court order, George Felos, [Michael Schiavo’s attorney and] the ethical heir of Walter Sackett, will have enormously advanced the cause of euthanasia in this country.”
And so he has.
But a look back to 1973 — the year that the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade and also the year that protests blasted a Sackett proposal — provides a brighter outlook. Sackett’s legislation and his arguments for it could have prevailed; we would be laboring in a poisoned, barren field.
IN 1973, SACKETT OFFERED HB 407, living will legislation. He had been making related proposals for the past five years. Thomas Horkan, executive director emeritus of the Florida Catholic Conference, recalled the history of those years in correspondence with me:
“The [Florida] Legislature [in 1968] took the old Constitution and went through it from the beginning to the end, revising it as they went. Early on, the Basic Rights section of the Constitution came up including the phraseology, ‘the right to life, liberty, etc.’ Sackett later said that in reading it over he was inspired to offer an amendment to that provision, inserting the words ‘death with dignity’ after the word ‘life’ in the constitution. That was quickly voted down. A new constitution was eventually proposed and adopted in the general election of 1968.”
Horkan added that Sackett told that story a number of times.
In 1969, Horkan recalled, “two things happened. I was employed by the Florida bishops to come to Tallahassee and start up the Florida Catholic Conference, representing the church in Florida. The second was that Sackett filed his first ‘Death with Dignity’ bill in the Florida Legislature.”
HB 3184, prefiled in October 1969, provided that a patient could claim a “right to death with dignity” and direct “that his life shall not be prolonged beyond the point of a meaningful existence.” If the patient was incompetent, next-of-kin could direct that treatment be withdrawn. If the person was disabled and without kinship as provided in the bill, three physicians could determine that the prolongation of life was meaningless; a circuit judge had to approve their determination.
In the early 1970s, wrote Horkan, “Sackett did several things for political purposes. First he reduced the provisions in his bill to limit its provisions to the right of a patient to direct in writing the withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures.”
That description fits the text of HB 407, Sackett’s 1973 living will bill, as provided by the State Library of Florida.
But the 1973 bill’s Legislative Summary retained the earlier “death with dignity” language and affirmed that HB 407 “permits any person to execute a document directing that his life shall not be meaninglessly prolonged.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online