Thursday, October 13, 2005

Never say never

These are amazing stories at a time when tragedy seems the rule. In Italy, a brain injured 38-year old man written off by doctors as nearly dead, suddenly awoke saying he heard and understood conversations around him during his silent ordeal.
Salvatore Crisafulli, a father of four, is describing his case as a "miracle" which proves that lost causes are anything but hopeless and his recovery appeared to strengthen the hand of Italians opposed to end-of-life solutions.

His brother even called Crisafulli "an Italian Terri Schiavo case" with reference to the brain-damaged Florida woman who died in March after her feeding tube was removed.
Earlier this year, an Arkansas man Terry Wallis inexplicably came out of a 19-year coma. Terry who was left paralysed and in a coma in 1984, was 19 and newly married with a baby girl, when his truck went over a cliff.

Channel 4 Dr Martin Brookes gave an interesting review of that miraculous recovery and wrote about the difficulties involved in assessing the effects and outcomes of comatose patients. Dr Brookes’ conclusion?
Of course, Terry is not out of the woods yet. His awareness of himself and his surroundings are still distorted, and he seems to lack a short-term memory. Perhaps these faculties will never be regained. But if the Terry Wallis story teaches us anything, it is never say never.
How do these stories compare with current views on abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia as they are reported in the news? Francis Schaeffer (together with then US Surgeon-General Dr C. Everett Koop) in his prophetic book Whatever Happened To The Human Race? tells us what’s at stake:
Cultures can be judged in many ways, but eventually every nation in every age must be judged by this test: how did it treat people? Each generation, each wave of humanity, evaluates its predecessor on this basis. The final measure of mankind's humanity is how humanely people treat one another.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. surveys the last 25 years since the publication of WHTTHR? and agrees with the writer that when humanity loses the high view of human life as imago dei the doors are flung wide open for greater 'anti-human' abuses. He quotes Schaeffer: "Any person can be obliterated for what society at one moment thinks of as its own social or economic good." Humanity stands on the brink of the abyss, says Mohler, and quite possibly we are edging nearer everyday.

Back in 1988, I came across a remarkable letter to the editor in the Economist written by Alison Davis from Blandford Forum, Dorset. I couldn't resist jotting down (yes, I'm an inveterate jotter) her stinging mail in response to articles in the January 23 issue of that magazine


You seem to assume that abortion on the grounds of handicap is not only acceptable, but desirable.

How can this be justified logically and ethically, unless one believes that severe handicap is a fate worse than violent and untimely death?

I am confined to a wheelchair due to spini bifida. I find this eugenic mentality insulting both to my humanity and to my intelligence. Why is it more desirable to dismember a child than to allow it to become like me?
What is even more remarkable is that a quick search online led me to Alison's story here. This amazing woman (view her pix) now 50, still lives in Dorset where she is National Co-ordinator of No Less Human a group within The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Amazing! Way to go Alison!

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