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October 15, 2005

Are You Sure You Want a Living Will?

Topics: Commentary

Since the court-sanctioned death of Florida's Terri Schiavo, the conversational media and written press have predictably and (almost) obediently echoed sentiments of self-proclaimed bioethicists in touting living wills as a measure to ensure that one's own autonomy and personal directives are observed and held fast to in times of medical crisis.

Using the unfortunate Terri Schiavo as their unconsenting poster child, a good many media outlets and bioethics 'experts' have screamed from the rooftops that no one should ever allow a fate such as hers to befall them. In other words, sign your life away now so that no one can fight for it later, should you become unable to speak for yourself.

A living will has nothing to do with living. It, instead, has everything to do with dying. It has to do with granting permission to others to withdraw medically necessary care from you so that you can either die naturally or die quickly - whichever comes first. For many people, the provision of artificial life support when death is eminent can seem unreasonable and unwanted. That's certainly understandable. But, consenting to such a thing can be a hazard inasmuch as it opens the door for the removal of medically necessary treatment when death isn't eminent.

Read the rest at Pamela Hennessy's Blog

Posted by tim at October 15, 2005 10:57 PM

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If one is to have a "Living Will" it should be a directive that the person has legally drawn up according to one's own wishes, and not according to the forms that are being created in each State of the USA.

From my own personal view, I would like to have something that is watertight so that I am not in a situation of being revived, attached to machines, and then a family member is forced to make the inevitable decision. Please note: I am referring to ventilators, heart machines etc. and not PEG tubes.

The current forms make it too easy for family members to attempt to end a person's life even if that is not the wish of the person. This is the kind of situation that should be avoided at all costs. An advanced medical directive should be something that is supervised by one's own personal physician in consultation with a trusted family member or friend.

Until there are proper checks and balances in place one should avoid making a "Living Will".

I do not have such a will and I have no intention of writing one until I have consulted with my church pastor or another trusted priest on what might be regarded the correct way to craft such a document so that I meet the requirements of Humanae Vitae, and at the same time giving my family the right to make any necessary decisions about my well-being.

My personal family has undergone some very different struggles. My oldest sister was in a coma for two weeks after a car accident in 1959 when she was roughly 8 years old. She survived the coma and continues to live a normal life. I cannot imagine the kind of heartache that my parents would have faced if doctors had been pestering them to end her life because of the remote possibility that she would not come out of the coma and survive. This is what modern parents face today. It is one reason why I am against the implementation of the current form of Living Will.

The making of a Living Will should not be done lightly. One needs to consider every little aspect of that living will so that no one has the opportunity to implement a regime that denies a patient the right to proper treatment. This seems to be what is happening throughout the USA. What is happening is not healthy and I believe that many people are being misinformed about the impact of their rather hasty decisions.

Posted by: Maggie4Life [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2005 6:23 PM

I think as I had stated earlier that everyone should make a living will when they are old enough to know what it is.

Posted by: Gabriel Bingaman at March 27, 2006 1:55 PM