I have always had a problem with this case. The two sides to the issue fall on two extremes that I think miss the larger point. One side thinks that she should have been kept in her state indefinitely no matter the state of her brain, the other side thinks we should be able to skip out whenever.
I am not in favor of euthanasia in general for many a reason. But in cases like this I cannot side with the right to life side.
The problem is technology. We now can keep flesh “alive” where before they died as they had always died in such cases. When one reads on the extent of Terry Schiavo’s brain damage, and it was quite horrendous, one has to shudder at some aspects of our Frankenstein medicine. Yes, most of the time it gives life, it saves many, many people who would have otherwise died. Unfortunately it has the ghoulish side effect of being too good, and keeping here what has passed away.
Will there come a day when we can keep all flesh alive? Do we not play God then either? Will we not already be “playing God” at that point? Suppose we can keep alive a 95 year old man whose heart gave out, brain turned to liquid and his other vital organs shut down. In this sort of future it is cheap to keep blood and oxygen flowing through the veins and as long as we can catch them in time so that on some level the body as a whole is “living”. What would we do with such a population of zombies? How far would we let our awesome powers over physical death go before we let go?
I know no good answers to this ethical dilemma.