Thursday, June 08, 2006

Biology 101: Human Beings are Not Plants

Biology 101: Human Beings are Not Plants

One of the arguments made by pro-lifers in the case of Terri Schiavo has once again been proven: so-called "persistent" non-reversible "vegetative" states are not the static, hopeless cases advocates of euthanasia portray. One does not know what treatments may become available and what God may accomplish through them or aside from them for such persons.

In the cases below, supporters of the diagnosis "persistent vegetative state" would have to say that these people went from being plants to being humans to being plants again. This kind of degrading language ("persistent vegetative state") comes straight from the pit of hell, exactly the sort of propaganda used by Nazis to create an image of disposability. It is a grave error to describe any person in terms that diminish his or her humanity in such ways. We need to eradicate the use of the term "vegetative" in conjunction with persons, period.

This is also the sort of "test" used by Peter Singer, of Princeton, to advocate infanticide (killing of infants: see If a person is not "sentient" (self aware) by Singer's subjective standards, he is not a person, and hence his life may be ended without concern or repercussion. It is all of the same, evil cloth.

We, as Catholics, must stand firmly and courageously with the irrefutable teaching of John Paul II (then Cardinal Wojtyla) in Love and Responsibility, a teaching that may be summed up by a slightly amended version of a famous line written by Dr. Seuss:

A person is a person no matter how small, ill or injured.

The essential dignity and worth of the human person; a composite of both body and spirit, is unalienable because the human person is created in the image and likeness of God. To deny our dignity and worth is to deny the dignity and worth of God.

Let us never weary of defending God's precious gift of life, from conception to natural death.

Michael Forrest

Sleeping pill wakes men in vegetative state

Sarah Boseley, health editor

Tuesday May 23, 2006
The Guardian

A drug commonly used as a sleeping pill appears to have had a miraculous effect on brain-damaged patients who have been in a permanent vegetative state for years, arousing them to the point where some are able to speak to their families, scientists report today.

The dramatic improvement occurs within 20 minutes of taking the drug, Zolpidem, and wears off after around four hours - at which point the patients return to their permanent vegetative state, according to a paper published in the medical journal NeuroRehabilitation. All three patients were men around 30 who had suffered brain damage in car accidents. Patient L had been in a vegetative state for three years, showing no reaction to touch and no response to his family. After he was given the drug, he was able to talk to them. Patient G was also able to interact with family, answer simple questions and catch a baseball. Patient N "was constantly uttering random screams". After he was given the drug, the screaming stopped, and he started watching television and reacting to his family.

Ralf Clauss of the nuclear medicine department of the Royal Surrey County hospital, one of the authors, said that clinical trials were now needed. He said the drug could have uses in all kinds of brain damage, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

Fact of Life: At 3 weeks after conception, an unborn child has a heartbeat.