I’m not sure who piddled in my cornflakes, but here we go …
She is paralyzed from the neck down, tethered to breathing and feeding tubes — but Manhattan bank manager Grace Sung Eun Lee still managed to mouth four words Wednesday.
“I want to die.”
Doctors are trying to honor Lee’s wish, but her devout parents believe that removing the tubes is suicide — a sin that would condemn the 28-year-old to hell. They’ve gone to court to keep the terminally ill brain-cancer patient on life support, turning a heartbreaking family tragedy into a right-to-die legal battle.
This reminds me, in a way, of the Terri Schiavo case … except in this situation, Grace isn’t brain dead. In fact, she’s acutely aware of her surroundings and the magnitude of her suffering and doesn’t want to go through it anymore. This woman is 28 years old and she’s fighting her own parents who believe that they – and the god they worship – clearly now what’s best for her and that she’s not in the right frame of mind to be able to make a rational decision.
Her mother, Jin-ah Lee, does not believe her always dutiful daughter has given up on life — or that her death is inevitable.
“Despite all this confusion, she wants to go to heaven,” she told the Daily News. “I keep telling her she can get better. God’s going to save you.”
This makes it even more cruel, doesn’t it? God’s the one who made you this sick and inflicted this horrible fate upon you, but don’t worry. After all of this psychological and physical torture that was brought about by his divine will , he’s going to magically un-paralyze you and you’ll get better. Just like all of those amputees who have had their limbs regrown through the power of their belief.
Please ignore all of the people who have been in your position, praying desperately for just one last hope … a treatment … a cure … something that will make it all better, and all go away … only to die with their prayers unanswered. Must have been the will of God. How mysterious and wonderful.
But hey, I love Him because I found an extra $20 in my coat pocket. God is great!
The congregation at Antioch Missionary Church is praying for Grace, who mentored young people. The day after the Korea Times wrote about the case, a Korean church group took out an ad that declared: “Giving up life is not the will of God.”
Neither, I would suspect, is being treated for everything that God throws at us, like drug resistant bacteria, ebola, and schizophrenia. It’s so goddamned easy to speak about submitting to “the will of God” when you’re not the one stuck down at the prime of your life, breathing through a tube and only able to move nothing but your head because a cancerous growth has paralyzed the rest of your body. Try to speak with the same wisdom and grace when you are so sick that the only thought that occupies your mind is just how nice it will feel to not feel anything anymore.
“We believe that our daughter is really heavily medicated and unable to make her own decisions,” her father said Wednesday.
But her doctors at Long Island’s North Shore Hospital say she’s competent and has made her wishes clear.
Sounds like her parents are the ones who appear incapable of making a clear decision on this matter. Medical science and their daughter’s doctors confirm that. So do the hospital psychiatrist and the courts …
The hospital had a psychiatrist assess Lee, and he found she is capable of making medical choices.
The judge said it was a difficult decision.
“My heart goes out to the family,” Phelan said in court.
“I feel your sorrow, I feel your pain, and I wish certainly that your daughter will recover and should recover, although that is unlikely… I need to vacate the temporary restraining order and let the things move through their other natural course and put Miss Lee in the hands of God.”
*sigh* Look, I’m probably being excessively harsh to two people who are so desperate to NOT face the prospect of having to outlive their daughter that they’re driven to do anything to prevent that from happening. I don’t have kids, so I can’t say I know from firsthand experience, but I can see it from their side. I wouldn’t want to be where they are.
But when that desperation drives them to not only ignore the suffering and pain of their daughter, but to convince themselves that her desire to end her suffering on her own terms is the result of some kind of delusion that will condemn her to hell, it’s clear they’re no longer thinking of her. They’re thinking of themselves … and using God and their religion as a way to try to convince both themselves and her that letting her die on her own would be wrong … even though without the treatment she’s received to date, it would have happened long ago.
What a lovely situation. Nobody’s a winner. I just hope that her parents respect their daughter enough to say goodbye, and let her die in peace.