Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I. Shawn McElhinney on Terry Schiavo and a "plea for consistent principles"

It looks like Judge Greer has granted Terri Schiavo another stay of execution, buying some time for Terri's parents, at least until Friday, and granting us as well to step back and, with the help of a fellow blogger, take a broader look at the predicament of Terri Schiavo.

I. Shawn McElhinney (Rerum Novarum) has a provocative and well-written string of posts on this subject. The essence of his argument is this: that there are three fundamental rights of man (life, liberty, property):

The fundamental rights of man are three in number. They are God-given and they precede all man made laws. It is in fact because these rights already existed -and an innate understanding of their implications- which is why men formed societies and wrote laws to begin with. And as these rights do not depend on laws for their existence, they likewise cannot be repealed by laws without perverting justice and the very notion of what law in a just society is intended to achieve.

These rights must be defended together as a unit, or else they will fail -- that is to say, to defend one to the exclusion of the others (by neglect and inattention) is ultimately counter-productive.

The argument was made on Rerum Novarum well before the plight of Terri Schiavo, but it is no less relevant to the discussion, and I mention it for the benefit of our readers:

Basically my friends, the approach of too many well-meaning people is merely to get Terri another "stay of execution" and that is not a viable long-term approach to this issue. What is needed long term is learning a valuable theory which will aid people of a conservative mindset in supplying order to their thinking and helping them to see the broader forest for the trees.

But this is not an "either/or" situation by any means but instead it is a "both/and" situation. Or to phrase it in that manner, we should be seeking both to preserve Terri's life and laying in place a consistent principle of argumentation for defending the fundamental rights of man. These rights are all dependent upon one another and when one is undermined, the other two by logical extension are as well. I am left wondering when Terri's advocates are not only going to stop seeing this as only a "life" issue but are also going to start seeing both parts of the "both/and" rather than only the first one. But that is all I will say on the matter at this time.

More on Terri Schiavo and the Fundamental Rights of Man. Feb. 18, 2005.

Related posts from Rerum Novarum:

For updates on Terri Schiavo, stay tuned to Fr. Rob Johansen @ Thrown Back.

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