Read about Amelia
I couldn't believe what a commenter wrote on Elizabeth's blog in response to the issue.
In a nutshell, the part she said that really got me was this:
"there is a distinct difference between a "human" and a "person," a distinction which may or may not be relevant here, but certainly is relevant in discussion of the right of significantly mentally disabled or incapacitated humans (like those in commas) to receive care, and the moral duty of others to provide it. Philosopher Mary Anne Warren provides one of the most cited criteria for personhood, or humanity in the moral sense:
1. Consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain;
2. Reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);
3. Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct external control);
4. The capacity to communicate, by whatever means, messages of an indefinite variety of types, that is, not just with an indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible topics;
5. The presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or racial, or both. source
These traits combined comprises a "full" person, but Warren doesn't believe that all attributes must be present to consider someone a person in some sense. "(1) and (2) alone may well be sufficient for personhood," she claims, and neither does she insist that any one of the criteria is necessary, although she seems to believe that reasoning is both a necessary and sufficient condition for personhood.
If we had infinite organs and resources to provide transplants for those organs, then yes all human should have them. However, we don't live in that world, and that does mean that persons have more of a right to an organ transplant than do non-person humans."
I was shocked, appalled... just numbly furious. How could anyone believe that? How could anyone say that? To deny a human being his or her very personhood - in her own words, their humanity based on genetic or cognitive differences...? Ignorant. Awful.
I feel very deeply within my soul that when we approach a place where there is the illusion of separation between a human being and his or her personhood, we as a society are in a very dark, lost place.
There is a German term that comes to mind when I hear people say things like that; "Lebensunwertes Leben". Loosely translated, it means 'Life unworthy of life', coined by the Nazi movement. It's an acrid, hateful term; the very utterance of it spits burning venom. The term describes an individual whose very existence is so worthless that it is best fit to simply end. It is the idea that an individual can be unfit for the privilege of enjoying the splendor of the world and the gift of life that God Himself bestowed upon them. The idea makes my eyes sting as the acid in my stomach reflexively curdles. It causes me physical pain to imagine that someone could believe this to be true.
When we start to believe that there are individuals unworthy of life because we cannot understand the depths of their personal existence, where do we draw the line? If we cannot relate- if there is no Rosetta stone; if we cannot reach the person on the other side - does their existence become less meaningful for lack of a parallel? If these ideas prevail, I weep for the fate of our world. We must remember to love everyone indiscriminately - even those whose perspectives we cannot comprehend. If we don't love each other, we will all be swept away.