Opinion Columns & Blogs

Is our definition of life consistently inconsistent?

The dilemma stretches from science to philosophy. Science offers a definition, yet scientists cannot agree whether a virus is alive or not. Life is not easy to define.

“Right to Life” groups insist on an earlier beginning to human life. In “Pro Choice” groups, some argue for a later beginning of human life and they ask whose life has the paramount rights, a fetus or the pregnant woman.

Centuries ago, religious leaders like Thomas Aquinas decided life began when God placed the soul in the fetus. The formula for when this happened stretched logic beyond all reasonable boundaries.

Politicians decide the question by counting the likely voters in their next campaign for re-election, leaving the courts to ponder “life.” The Supreme Court makes a decision and the politicians wrestle for the opportunity to appoint new judges who would reverse the previous decisions.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees our “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” I wonder who is considering this clause in the Constitution as we debate the health care bills before us. The government’s official non-partisan estimate concludes the new bills offered will leave many millions of our citizens without life-saving medical insurance.

Has the value of “life” become blurred?

Ronald Reagan called the hospital emergency room the “safety net” for those without health-care coverage. But the ER does not provide chemotherapy, or that surgical stent needed after a heart attack. It only makes sense that people without insurance will die in greater numbers than those with insurance.

Life. What do the advocates of a strict original interpretation of the Constitution say “life” means? What would our forefathers say it means? Maybe they thought it was obvious? Do “Right to Life” supporters advocate for life-saving insurance for the most people possible? How many Americans, if confronted with the choice between saving the life of their neighbor’s child, or having lower insurance premiums, would choose the premiums?

Of course, such a choice shouldn’t be placed before any citizen, but lawmakers couldn’t find a good answer, at least not before their deadline for summer vacation. Nearly half the Senate chose the lower premiums.

The proposed bills did not pass, partly because some senators insisted on certain political principles; they would leave even more people without coverage. Is adhering to political philosophy more important than life-saving medical insurance?

I have seen citizens on the news, some Republican, credit the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with saving the life of their child or other family member. Is it important that any health care bill bear the name Republican or Democrat?

How much time was wasted on proposing new partisan, life-threatening health care bills, when it should have been easier to fix the current health care coverage? Would it be better to postpone any changes until a truly better proposal is conceived?

It now appears this is what Congress is being forced to do. Maybe the legislators should write a bill that ends with life; then work backwards to page one where the mission to save lives begins.


Tom Scholl is a resident of Macon. His email address is tomscholl2@hotmail.com.