Statements issued by Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick and Lutherans For Life Executive Director James I. Lamb support the family of Terri Schiavo, which had fought to keep the brain-damaged woman’s feeding tube in place in spite of court rulings calling for its withdrawal.
Schiavo, 41, died March 31. She had been without food and water since March 18. Schiavo’s husband, Michael, said his wife would not have wanted to live in her disabled condition and he fought to have her feeding tube removed.
“‘Who should decide?’ however, is not the critical issue. It is the decision itself that is the critical issue,” says Lamb in his March 23 statement. “It is critical to understand that Terri Schiavo is brain-damaged but is not dying,” he said.
“Certainly, we can and should allow the dying to die. But to remove food and water from someone like Terri, who is very much alive, will not allow her to die, it will cause her to die.”
Having “compassion means to ‘suffer with,’ not kill, those who we think are suffering,” said Lamb. “To kill those who are suffering, even for the most compassionate of reasons, is an insult to our God and Savior Jesus Christ” and “denies that our value comes from what God has done and not from what we are able to do.”
In a statement issued Feb. 25, Kieschnick observed that, with her feeding tube in place, “it does not appear that Ms. Schiavo has entered irretrievably into the dying process. Therefore, administering food and hydration would belong in the realm of ordinary care and should not be withdrawn.”
The Schiavo court struggle, Kieschnick said, “has the potential effectively to legalize and set a dangerous precedent for this type of killing in our country — a precedent that would have profound effects on our culture as a whole.
“Our society is shaped by the value we place on human life,” he said. “If we believe that the life of every human being is of special worth, we will choose to treat each person with care and respect. As we face often-difficult end-of-life issues, our aim must always be to care, never to kill.”
To read Kieschnick’s entire statement, click here.
For more information regarding end-of-life decisions, read the February 1993 report of the Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations titled “Christian Care at Life’s End,” which may be downloaded as a PDF file.
To read Lamb’s entire statement, click here.
LFL also has produced a booklet, “The Basics on Advance Directives,” that offers information about advance directives for Christians. To order the booklet (25 cents, item no. 807B), or for more information about life issues, click here or contact LFL toll-free at (888) 364-LIFE (5433).
Posted March 31, 2005