Friday, April 01, 2005

LIVING WILLS & THE WILL TO LIVE

I've included the link to the Will to Live Project in the title. That project intends to replace the Living Wills with an alternative that assumes that the person will want not just give up any effort ASAP, but will prefer to stay alive as long as reasonable. After the Terri Schiavo case pushed end-of-life medical care past the brink of passive "letting them go gently", and moved it into an active effort to get rid of "unwantables", I think many of us need to look at the options available to us, and consider what we might want.

It's difficult to imagine what our last days on Earth might look like, and just what we might want for ourselves. Many a young person can't imagine old (or even middle) age, and declares that "life wouldn't be worth living" if they lost some functions. However, when we DO age, we find that diminished senses, creaky joints, and lessened physical abilities are mitigated by medicine, adjustments, and compensations. We do manage to adjust, and find that our pleasure in life is undiminished.

That's a strong argument against living wills - that, in good health, it's difficult to predict just what procedures/processes would be unacceptable. Who could have predicted as recently as 5 years ago, that food and water would be classified as an "extraordinary medical procedure"?

It appears that the courts are comfortable with applying today's standards to yesterday's living wills, even though there is no indication that the person would have agreed to that interpretation. It is for this reason that I am urging everybody to contact their legislators, and letting them know that you oppose holding up judicial confirmations. It seems that executive ability to chose judges may be the factor that keeps the courts from assuming veto power over decisions they may not agree with, no matter how tangled the reasoning or unrelated to constitutional issues.

I brought up the subject of wills and end-of-life directives this week with my husband. We will be making a temporary, preliminary directive and will, pending an appointment with a lawyer later this month.

Do make those choices SOON.


The situation with Pope John Paul II is confusing - several news organizations have reported him dead, flatlined, or in a coma. But no official word has surfaced.

Word is that he does NOT have a Living Will.

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