OK: I'll bite. If you think it's mercy to starve another creature to death, whether it's a dog, a horse, a goldfish or a person incapacitated to the point of not producing a taxable income, and yet you oppose the death penalty for confirmed murderers, you are a hypocrite. If you believe in euthanizing people who can't choose AND you support the death penalty--I can respect your consistency. If you're enough of a jerk-off to abandon a critically ill spouse and start another family with someone else, at least have the dignity to relinquish power-of-attorney to your spouse's loved ones who are still devoted to that sadly altered individual. Terri Schiavo was not being kept alive by extraordinary means-like a dialysis machine or something to keep her heart going-and in this case, it was irresponsible to starve her to death, regardless how much she was or was not aware of.
I'm sure you know that Bubonic Plague is spread by fleas. The bacterium which causes bubonic plague--Yersinia pestis--causes the entrance to the infected flea's stomach to swell shut, preventing blood from entering, and the flea can suck blood till the cows come home drained, and never sate their increasingly ravenous hunger. They then jump from host to host hoping to alleviate their suffering, biting everything and making more filthy pathogenic contacts than a toilet seat at Madison Square Garden. Now, if a mere flea with its infinitesimally small brain can be driven mad with hunger--what of the suffering of a human being when starving, even if they are in a vegetative state???
The human brain-- states of consciousness-- is a complex thing, and we are not even remotely close to unraveling its mysteries. Anti-death penalty activists cite the dozens of tragic executions of people later exonerated by DNA evidence, etc., as reason enough to discontinue the practice. Well, conversely, I argue that if there is a chance that a person may have a degree of awareness which we can't be assured of, isn't it better to continue to sustain that person if it may be done so simply as a food and water supply? It is sheer arrogance to say definitively that she can not possibly have any degree of awareness--it's hubris, sheer human folly to state otherwise. The degree of her ability to perceive is unknowable, and to act otherwise speaks volumes of a desire for taking the easy way out and getting rid of a person other people consider to be a nuisance. It's a slippery slope, and we're not wearing the right shoes--we are soleless. Today, it's people in a coma. Tomorrow it may be ALS sufferers or people with Multiple Sclerosis, and then it won't be much of a stretch to justify getting rid of groups of folks. The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson should be mandatory reading for everyone pondering this subject. You may not give a shit about Terri Schiavo, but you may give a damn when it's someone you love who is deemed expendable by society. Ask German Jews, circa 1940.