The Right Coast

March 24, 2005
Bill Buckley and the End of Life
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Bill Buckley writes about Terri Schiavo, and he is by no means sure that she should continue to be kept alive:
There was never a more industrious inquiry, than in the Schiavo case, into the matter of rights formal and inchoate. It is simply wrong, whatever is felt about the eventual abandonment of her by her husband, to use the killing language. She was kept alive for fifteen years, underwent a hundred medical ministrations, all of them in service of an abstraction, which was that she wanted to stay alive. There are laws against force-feeding, and no one will know whether, if she had had the means to convey her will in the matter, she too would have said, Enough.
The Schiavo case seems to be something of a Rohrschach test of how people feel about the end of their own lives, and what they want (or at least now think they want) for themselves. As for Buckley, it has struck me before that he dreads a lingering old age. Said I a month or so ago:
Buckley has always shown a youthful spirit. Now approaching 80, he gives the impression that he doesn't relish the prospect of a long decline; even that he would do whatever might be necessary to avoid it.
His column about Terri Schiavo only reinforces my sense that Buckley is thinking hard about his own end, and that he himself has no desire to linger -- or intention of doing so.