Thursday, February 04, 2010

Technology and the Culture of Life

First it was Lennart Nilsson with his beautiful intrauterine photographs documenting the development of the fetus into a baby in A Child Is Born.

Now, 3D sonograms capture the fetus sucking its thumb, swimming, and even smiling.

Today there is a story on AOL: Study Finds Traces of Thought in Vegetative Patients. Using the latest fMRI technology, five patients previously thought "vegetative" showed signs of thought and awareness. That's five out of 54--not terrific odds, unless that happens to be your kid, your spouse, your sibling.

No discussion about the quality of the lives of those five, although one of the researchers did acknowledge (in an article about the same study on The Fox News website:

Monti and Laureys said it is not clear whether such patients have the mental capacity to answer more important but complicated questions, such as whether they wish to go on living.

"I'm trying to figure out what is the best way to tackle this," Laureys said.

Both articles stress that the responsive patients suffered traumatic brain injury, rather than oxygen deprivation, which is what caused Terri Schiavo's brain injury.

Still, I see this as yet another argument for choosing life. And that maybe the Catholic Church might have learned a thing or two about the mysteries of life in the last 2000 years.