Dear Sister Mary Rose,
My name is Elias and I am glad that you came to visit my Bioethics class the other day. I vaguely recognized you because I used to regularly attend mass at the San Buenaventura Mission on Sundays with my family. I told my mom that you were going to be speaking with us and she got all excited and spoke highly of you; she also told me to ask if you remember a guy named "Todd Weldon". I believe he had attended classes there or something, I can't remember exactly.

Anyways, I'm glad that you spoke to our class and really admired how you handled everything with a calm and kind demeanor as I fear that many people may have a prejudice against religious people because of extremists. I have been raised in a Catholic/Christian family so I understand and respect your teachings of the Catholic faith even though I don't agree with some of its aspects. I understand how Catholics have amongst the strongest beliefs for the right to life and how it is God-given but I also believe that an individual has free will, even though many may not agree with their actions. In the "Declaration of Euthanasia" by the Vatican, they state that psychological conditions arisen from "prolonged illness, advanced old age, and/or a state of loneliness... can facilitate the acceptance of death". I believe that the acceptance of death is much more than a simple plea for help, that, in a number of cases, it is determined by extensive intro and retrospection, that suicide is not a coward's way out, that it actually takes a lot of courage in order to commit the final irreversible decision (but it is another thing whether or not these actions are justified, which I will get to in the following paragraphs). It may be true that terminally-ill persons are scared and want love, but there are also those who accept that their lives are coming to an end, that God is calling for them, but choose to relieve themselves of the unbearable pain that they have been burdened with because I don't believe God would want his children to endure such excruciating suffering.

In the case of Alison Davis it is understandable how we shouldn't haphazardly disregard any value of life for what we perceive as "burdensome", I believe we should let the person decide their own actions and not be at the mercy of others before they have a say in the matter. Alison Davis was born under adverse circumstances (myelomeningocele spina bifida, the word itself sounds painful) but eventually grew up to live a able-bodied individual, which would have not been possible if it had been for the "sympathetic" intervention of others deciding her "no worthwhile quality of life". I really appreciate the fact that Davis's parents didn't turn the cold shoulder and how she is so motivated nowadays, and how hopefully her experiences can shed some light onto other people. I understand how the legalization of euthanasia could be the beginning of a slippery slope because I definitely see how, by way of our "peculiar" legal system, one thing would lead to another which would somehow allow mass euthanasia of disabled people-- it sounds crazy but it's not entirely improbable. By keeping directly uninvolved persons out of the equation, the euthanasia dilemma would be in the hands of the individual to ultimately decide. I agree with the fact that suicide may not always be the solution and how, even when put in adverse conditions, it is solely up to the individual of how they interpret their situation, with bright optimism or cold pessimism, but it is still their choice nonetheless.

Chris Hill was quite an interesting situation. Here was a guy who was on top of the world living life as it should be (e.g. good education, chilling at volcanoes, watch the sunrise in the Himalayas, etc.) until he suffered grave injuries in a hang-gliding accident which rendered him a quadrapeligic. Now, I understand how his adventurous lifestyle spells out such possible consequences as this, which he should have expected to happen but it is still nonetheless heartbreaking what happened to his life, having it all taken away so suddenly. He goes into depth about how his body has taken a toll to his condition (e.g. deteriorated physique, pressure sores/horrific ulcers, and autonomic dysreflexia, to name a few) which makes the cost of staying alive too much of a burden to bear. But once I took a step back and reassessed the situation, suicide definitely didn't have to be the final answer. Now that I think about it, I kinda expected a guy like him to choose to live on and offer the massive amounts of knowledge and wisdom he gained from his legendary life to others, but instead it was focused on what he lost rather than the journey he had. True, from my position it could be easy for me to say how life would have been a "better" choice but if I was in his position I probably would have thought the same thing, and how telling my stories might not be enough to keep me going every day. The case of Chris Hill was a tragic story, but it didn't necessarily need to have a bad ending.

The Netherlands are VERY interesting with what kind of liberal policies they provide. In their country, they have a number of so-called "suicide clinics" which allows people from all over the world enter and never leave (so to speak). I appreciate that there is a somewhat more peaceful way to end one's life rather than the messy "traditional" means, but I just hope it doesn't influence people to take that path, I just hope that they know it's just an option on a vast list of possible options; suicide should never be the end-all-be-all. The clinics don't accept everyone willy-nilly and have everyone offing themselves like flies, but they actually have a list of requirements in order to be even be considered for the procedure. However, there was one case where the guy (his name escapes me at the moment) was merely a heartbroken parapelegic rugby player, who somehow gained the "right to die" even though he had it easier than a majority of the people who are paralyzed. The case of Ramon Sanpedro was completely understandable how he patiently waited for decades for his peace but never found it, he gave it a chance and the cards weren't in his favor. The Suicide Clinics of the Netherlands remind me a lot of Jack Kevorkian during his heyday, about how he would stuck his neck out to help the terminally-ill relieve their pain. But it's not that black-and-white, it's much more complicated. I'm not putting Kevorkian on a pedestal and calling him a folk-hero by any means, but he is a man who should be respected for his ideals, however flawed they may be they still showed drive. I respect the Netherlands and Jack Kevorkian for providing more "humane" means of ending one's life, but I just hope that they will only accept those who believe they have made the right decision and exhausted all other options through strenuous contemplation to prevent any more hasty suicides.

Things get REALLY complicated with the case of Terri Ann Schiavo with the whole person-not-person debacle. Schiavo suffered severe brain damage in an accident and was consciously brain-dead, kept alive by machines, trapped in a Permanent Vegetative State. Her family fought hard to keep her alive, showing "footage" of her responding to their actions, but it was really just random electrical signals sent out activating "responses". The plug was eventually pulled in a bitter court battle between the family and the ex-husband, but I believe it was what Schiavo would have wanted. Now now, I know the whole "would have wanted" statement is a bit generalized, but it would also be the case if she was kept alive. With all prejudices aside, I believe the family would have been somewhat more in the right if they paid all of the medical bills themselves and didn't rely on taxpayers paying for everything. There are more and more people thinking about such a dilemma to where people create "Advanced Directives" telling people what they would want if they would ever face such difficult situations, but it's one thing to say it another thing to do it, they might think differently once they are in that position but it will be too late; however, no one can take the chance of questioning an advanced directive and should carry on, but people should think very carefully of what they are going to tell people to do once they will no longer be able to speak.

On the other hand, I agree with a number of critics towards the movie "Million Dollar Baby" how it somewhat glorified euthanasia by giving the "tragic story" of the rise and fall of a hopeful boxer. One thing people fail to keep in mind was that it was a movie so the situation was set up exactly to where the audience would completely sympathise with the final decision. In real life, not everything is THAT coincidental with evil family, broken dreams, and specific childhood memories so the whole storytelling aspect really finnagled with people's perceptions of suicide. I admire the story for what it is but ultimately I don't believe entirely with how she "needed" to die because there are much more facets to the situation that what we see in a two-hour-ish movie.

Ultimately, I believe suicide/euthanasia should never have to be the final decision that one makes if they haven't already truly put their heart into exhausting all of their options. Man has free will and is entitled to make his own decisions, whether or not we agree with them, but it's his choice. All we can do is hope he makes the right one.