Location: Santa Ana, California, United States

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics and an admitted diet fanatic. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of two interactive workbooks, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual and Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, she also publishes a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge and various weight loss mini-courses. She can be reached at,, or

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Quality of Life

As Terri Schiavo gradually weakens in her Florida hospice, her plight is debated by every political, religious and civil rights group in the country. Beneath the protests from both so-called Right and Left wing groups, the really important issue is that it allows us all to grapple with our definition of life and the basic qualities required to be recognized as human.

Carrie Gordon Earll, a senior policy analyst for Focus on the Family, stated: “Terri is a silent spokesperson for the value of life and she doesn’t even know it . . ."

The question must arise that if Terri is entirely oblivious to the world around her, does her mere physical body constitute a living human being? This is not someone in a coma which might turn out to be temporary -- this a poor woman whose brain is so damaged that she will never recover to the point where she can live, not merely exist. The debate should not be about life but about existence and whether that alone can qualify as life.

Microorganisms exist. Cells in a petrie dish exist. Removed cancerous tumors exist. But do they have any quality of life at all? Supporters of the disabled see this case as a cultural rejection of their right to live as less than fully functional individuals. Paraplegics, Tetraplegics, even those with less than catastrophic brain injury have qualities of life which are no longer available to Ms. Schiavo. Life for them may be difficult but they are still people, aware of the world, aware of themselves, able to interact with other people and their environment.

Despite her parents' wishful belief that Terri reacts to them, it is clear that she is no more reactive than a beautiful moss clinging to a hillside. Terri is totally oblivious to the furor surrounding her and so the debate that rages reflects not her or her needs but the needs of those around her, the needs of all of us, and that is where we need to concentrate our efforts at understanding how we all feel about life and being human.

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8:15 AM  

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