Saturday, 9 March 2013

In Defence of Solidarity: My Name is Teague

 In the Mid 1990s Canada was at the centre of a heated Euthanasia debate during/after the trial and prosecution of Robert Latimer for the 'mercy killing' of his daughter Tracy who had cerebral palsy. The majority of the media, the chattering classes and academia supported Robert 'putting his daughter out her misery' [as Michael Coren opined 'actually he was putting her out of his misery'] - few spoke out for the murdered girl...and then a letter was published by Teague Johnson. I have a question for you once you've read the letter...

My Name is Teague [Published in the Vancouver Sun, 9/10/94]

My name is Teague. I am eleven years old, and have really severe cerebral palsy. The Latimer case in Saskatchewan has caused me a great deal of unhappiness and worry over the past few weeks.”

I feel very strong that all children are valuable, and deserve to live full and complete lives. No one should make the decision for another person on whether their life is worth living or not.

I have a friend who had cerebral palsy, and he decided that life was too hard and too painful. So he really let himself die. I knew he was leaving this world and letting himself dwell in the spiritual world. I told him that I understood that the spiritual world was really compelling, but that life was worth fighting for.

I had to fight to live when I was very sick. The doctors said I wouldn’t live long, but I knew I had so much to accomplish still.

I have to fight pain all the time. When I was little, life was pain. I couldn’t remember no pain. My foster mom, Cara, helped me learn to manage and control my pain. Now my life is so full of joy. There isn’t time enough in the day for me to learn and experience all I wish to. I have a family and many friends who love me. I have a world of knowledge to discover. I have so much to give.

I can’t walk or talk or feed myself. But I am not “suffering from cerebral palsy.” I use a wheelchair, but I am not “confined to a wheelchair.” I have pain, but I do not need to be “put out of my misery.”

My body is not my enemy. It is that which allows me to enjoy Mozart, experience Shakespeare, savor a bouillabaisse feast, and cuddle my mom. Life is a precious gift. It belongs to the person to whom it was given. Not to her parents, nor to the state. Tracy’s life was hers “to make of it what she could.” My life is going to be astounding.

Supporters of the Incrementalist Strategy in fighting for a change in abortion laws argue that where any life that can be saved at any price? 
They must be saved.
That where exceptions and compromises mean more lives can be saved and  [to quote a couple of Catholic Voices] 'lives are not squandered by ideological purity'; the negotiation must be brokered because any extra life means it is always a price worth paying. 

Incrementalists would argue that if Parliament proposed a reduction in the abortion limit [but this did not include those who were handicapped, or conceived via rape or incest, or were causing 'serious' physiological/psychological harm to the mother]...this would be morally acceptable on the grounds of the extra lives saved...that they would bear no responsibility for the aspects of the legislation which left behind those who 'couldn't garner enough public will to defend them'

Ok here's the question:

Do you think Teague would agree?

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