-At what age does the Right to Life expire?
Please be forewarned that content might include
details of abuse and potentially triggering language.
I’m a little offended, actually, that after all these years of trying to come out from under the shame of child sexual abuse and convince myself that my life has value, that medical ethicists are telling me, “It doesn’t.” I was expendable, as a child–made to believe that the men who abused me had greater rights to my body and life essence than I did. These men had age and position in society. What did I, a small child, have to offer the world? Who was I to claim that I had destiny beyond service as a pawn in a kingdom of political, business, and religious royalty?
The Washington Post reported recently, regarding medical treatment for those suffering consequences from the global pandemic Covid-19,
“Some state recommendations do not set specific age cutoffs for ventilators during rationing, while others explicitly exclude access for older people, with access barred to those ranging in age from 65 to 85. A Minnesota panel, for instance, recommended prioritizing children over adults, and young adults over older adults….”
Never mind that Federal law prohibits discrimination based upon age. According to the National Review, “Under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, hospitals that receive federal funding (which includes Obamacare) ‘may not exclude, deny, or limit services to, or otherwise discriminate against, persons on the basis of age.’”
What about legal precedent from twenty years ago, when murder charges were brought against Dr. Kevorkian for doctor-assisted euthanasia? Even if volunteers were to emerge, as suggested by the Texas Republican Lt. Governor – who claimed that many grandparents would refuse treatment for coronavirus in order to save their grandchildren – it doesn’t seem to be lawful, in at least two different ways.
Thankfully, for those who share the position of the Texas politician, we have a leader in the Oval Office who won’t let obstacles like the Constitution or legal precedent stand in the way of his agenda. The economy! It must be great again! And if you’ve listened to the nightly White House briefings lately, you’ve heard Trump crow over how much higher the Dow will soar once this pesky pestilence has left our shores.
One notably silent group in terms of public debate on hospital triage and prioritizing access to healthcare is Trump-fanatic evangelical Christians. They visibly, vocally, roar during his rallies about the desire to retain a president who values life. What is the difference, I would ask, between advocating for the unborn not to be aborted and advocating for the elderly not to have their lives truncated? Do not both have a right to life? They say life begins at conception. Do pro-lifers have a definitive end point? For example, “A life well-lived, at any age.” Or, “By sixty-five or so, that’s long enough. Give someone else a chance.”
I think about my therapist, who, like me, is in the age-range for a potentially compulsory DNR when it comes to Covid-19. She is still working, contributing to society. Her line of work has generational impact; people who were abused often become abusers themselves–especially without therapy. What if a client – absent therapy – went on to harm a child? How is this accounted for in medical death-panel rationing? On the other side of the equation, what if a child saved at the expense of a grandparent goes on to become a school shooter, drug dealer, rapist, or murderer? Would it have been worth sacrificing the life of the grandparent to save one young person?
Back in the eighties, a debate raged in religious communities over AIDS. The cruel opined, “God sent AIDS to punish homosexuals.” Some countered, “Maybe God allowed AIDS in order to test our compassion.” I believe that there’s a philosophical parallel between AIDS and Covid-19. For instance, many, myself included, have increased respect, appreciation, and concern for hourly-wage and under-employed workers. Who’d have considered, a few months ago, the great value of a grocery-store clerk? How many of us overlooked their very existence as we hurried through our now-coveted former daily routines? There is a groundswell of support for the unseen and marginalized of society—to counter the callous survival-of-the-fittest view of life’s essential provisions and the economy.
The 2020 election will be in part determined by a group of people who support Trump because he is “pro-life.” The question is, will they see the hypocrisy of that stance? Just how pro-life is he? Do seniors count? Will the federal government step in to enforce the Age Discrimination Act, or will they let the states decide our fate? Will they silently partner with the plan to extinguish living flames in order to give breath to the young and to the glowing embers of the unborn—if truth be told, in order to remain in power? If Trump had Covid-19, would his age count against him, or would his position preclude a laissez-faire potential death sentence? We know the answer to that question. Why is it that some are expendable and others are not? Maybe, in part, God is allowing coronavirus to exist in order to enable and encourage us to explore the value of a life–reminding us that it goes beyond mere conception.