Last weekend I went to an international conference on euthanasia. The most important thing I learned there is that no one can decide whose life is worth living. It is impossible to say a person’s life is no longer valuable because he’s old or because she’s in a wheelchair or because he’s mentally disabled or she’s suicidal or he’s terminally ill or whatever.
The most important person I was introduced to was Teague Johnson. Tracy Latimer, whom he refers to here, was a child with cerebral palsy whose father killed her.
Here is this astounding eleven-year-old boy in his own words:
My Name is Teague
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.
Teague died May 29, 1995. He was eleven years old. His life was indeed astounding.