Monday, May 7, 2007

Last day of classes, and I am lulled to sleep by the partiers outside my window...

Today was nice. My first class was at 6:00 PM, as Chem and Latin are both over for the semester. So I rolled out of bed at 9:30 (okay, not THAT late, but still) and did my phylum paper, which I basically finished on my own because it was easier than trying to get together with my project partner. It was just a bunch of hard-to-spell classification names, anyway. That said, Zelinkaderidae sounds very, very cool and I want to use it in conversation more often.

Anyway, other than that... I went and met with the Honors program people like they asked me to, despite the fact that I'm not taking an Honors class next semester. They wanted to check in with me, so I wandered over to hear her tell me I was doing fine and ahead of the curve and all that good stuff that I already knew because I took four honors classes this year for a reason, namely, I wanted to not be worried about honors classes while taking Organic and Calculus.

It wasn't a total waste of time, though; for starters, got me out of the room for a while and out in the glorious weather, and she did let me know that there was a 444 class that I would have to take at some point, a specific kind of class that you take instead of one of your gen eds. They're pretty cool, though, I'm not too worried about it. I'll probably take it instead of a sociology credit, I want to do something hands-on for my Fine Arts requirement.


I also finally replaced the sunglasses that I lost after two days. My new pair are almost identical. I was going to get a cheaper pair at Zyla's, like Vivacia recommended yesterday, but they only had the tiny, not-fashionable ones, and every time I find a fashion that actually flatters my face (or body) I feel the need to jump on the bandwagon and ride it out, because it doesn't happen nearly enough.

I wound up getting a pair at Brooks. They are very Paris Hilton but cost me way more than I would have liked to spend ($12, clearly a sign that I am che-e-e-eap).


My only class today, and my last class for the semester, was the health care seminar. No speakers today, just an open discussion about the right to die (assisted suicide) and abortion. Basically he was saying that it is strange that we live in a country where assisted suicide is only legal in one state-- Oregon-- but abortion is legal in all states, partial birth abortions notwithstanding.

His point was pretty straightforward-- we're letting people decide to terminate other life (assuming you consider it such-- he clearly did, and told us to assume it was "for argument's sake"-- aka I don't want to hear other points of view) but not allowing them to terminate their own. The reason for this is that we have a prevailing idea in this country that anyone who wants to terminate their own life is mentally ill, because we fear our own deaths. Thus, the person who fears their continued life more than their death must be insane.

You will notice that the question of abortion always centers around when a fetus is considered a human life. That's because at that point it's murder. Once the fetus is considered human, the only way you can justify aborting it is if it's going to die anyway, like if it's missing major organs. If a baby has no brain or no kidneys or something, it's going to die, there's no saving it.

Personally, while I might abort a fetus with Potter's Syndrome (that's a lack of kidneys) in the most humane way possible on the grounds that it would feel pain before it's death, if I had an anencephalic child (that's no brain, or not enough brain to survive) that was otherwise healthy and I myself was healthy, I hope I would have the courage to carry it to term to provide it's organs to other newborns who might die otherwise. Anencephalic infants cannot feel pain.

But the question is always "When does life begin?" not "Is life going to be worthwhile?" People shy away from that question, on the grounds that "any life is better than no life." Anencephaly or Potter's Syndrome are extremes, and most people who don't have religious reasons saying otherwise will abort or accept that someone else would abort such a child. But what about things that are more gray areas?

Let's say a fetus has a mental defect that means they are physically normal and healthy but are incapable of development, and will always be at the mental level of an infant. Many women would abort. Now let's say someone got into an accident that destroyed part of their brain, leaving them at that same developmental state. It would be unheard of to provide euthanasia for such a person because it's murder. The reason? The fetus could be considered "not yet alive."

But I'm not trying to talk about abortion today; I'll just clarify that I personally would only undergo an abortion if the fetus had severe enough birth defects that it could never be adopted, and I was unable to care for it myself. As a healthy, intelligent young white American woman with minimal genetic illness in my family I'm betting that any offspring I'd ever accidentally produce would be adopted instantly, depending on the state of the father. Not, mind you, that I ever expect this to be an issue.

The issue is that euthanasia is illegal. Say a man is dying from cancer. He is in a great deal of pain, enough that morphine barely helps. He says that he wants to die, he wants to kill himself. What happens? They have him talk to a counselor. Because he's suicidal. Some hospitals would even put him on a suicide watch.

I more than anyone know that suicide is a serious problem and should not be ignored. If someone is healthy and young but depressed, though, that's curable. If the cause of their pain is terminal illness, it's not. Euthanasia is legal in Oregon and in Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The Netherlands only allow it in the case of terminal illness.

The thing is, we find it much easier to believe that a person could, in sound mind, objectively choose to end the life of another who was suffering than that a person would choose to end their own. Because anyone who wants to die must be suicidal and depressed. It couldn't possibly be that they are dying anyway, are in pain, and have rationally decided that they no longer fear death as much as they fear pain.

I don't fear death. I don't want to die, but I'm not afraid of death. The funny thing is I don't even know for sure what kind of afterlife there is, and for all I know I could be going to the Christian Hell to burn with the idolaters or something, but I figure, if it comes it comes. I'm not going to hasten my own death and I will fight violently to protect it as long as I am healthy and whole, but when my time comes, it comes. When my brain is incapable of even a facsimile of my current mental processes, I am dead. If I have a personality but it is just radically different and the memories are gone, I am dead; that's not me. If I am brain dead or in a persistent vegetative state, I am dead. And if I'm incapable of living outside of a hospital and I will never get better, and I am in pain, I'm not dead, but I might as well be. I want people to see that acceptance of death is not depression, but is merely... acceptance.

You know, of all the things that one can gripe about over and over again, this issue is the most valuable. I'm hoping that if I'm ever brain dead there will be no long discussion or court battle, but merely a discussion of my prognosis with the doctors, a medical consensus, and a quick trip to the judge, because all of the interwebs knows that I don't want to be the next Terry Schiavo.


ian said...

This was a really thoughtful, intelligent post. Thanks for sharing it with us. I hope you don't get evil commenters showing up now who are rabidly Googling "abortion" and "euthanasia", just looking for someone to flame on.


Basiorana said...

Yeah, well, to each their own opinion, so long as they're insulting my opinion and not me.

Uspekhov said...

So, completely unrelated to the more serious content of your blog (since I definately have my own opinions on the other front that aren't necessary to articulate), that picture of new and improved emo spiderman describes my past two boyfriends before Steve. It's very ironic when you take my personality into consideration. One crazy, overly-happy and friendly 'should've been a cheerleader if she was coordinated and atheletic' with the 'i wear all black and like to keep my shades closed on a sunny perfect day' boy with the emo haircut.

Fantastic. Maybe I should see spiderman

Basiorana said...

Yeah, I know your opinions on that matter, and I know you don't usually share them.

Feel free to use the spidey diagram to screen future boyfriends...