A basic human right

I have a living will. So far as I’m concerned, it is every adult’s responsibility to have a living will. It’s pretty brainless.

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There are lots more out there. If you don’t trust “free”, then your local Staples or Office Min will have inexpensive fill-in-the-blank forms. Do yourself and your family a favor. Fill one out, and then TELL them your wishes. Make sure they know where your Living Will is kept (mine is with a copy of my will with the executrix).

The Terri Schiavo situation scares me. It is too late to save Terri Schiavo. Terry Schiavo died fifteen years ago, or at least that part of her brain that housed her hopes, dreams, personality, and her very ability to reason. And yet there is some sort of misguided movement out there that thinks that by prolonging the beating of a heart they are saving a life.

I have read in more than one place about that asinine “slippery slope” that we are purportedly once again sliding down. “The next will be the elderly in nursing homes or the permanently disabled.” If ludicrous exaggeration is the argument as to why Terri Schiavo needs her suffering prolonged, then permit me my own ludicrous exaggeration. Indeed, where will it all end? We’ve nearly developed the ability to stave death off completely. We have a moral obligation to stick a breathing tube and a feeding tube and an intravenous tube and a urinary catheter into every ninety-year-old out there. What? Pull the plug? That’s murder!

I won’t get into the science of this. There’s enough reported on that. Anyone who chooses to can educate themselves easily on what it means to be in a “vegetative state”. But it scares me that those who have not bothered to understand that basic reflexes such as blinking and sleeping and yes, even laughing and crying can be present in an otherwise permanently deadened mind could one day decide my fate.

It does not astonish me that grieving parents are unable to let go, even after fifteen years. It does astonish me that under oath those parents would say that if their child became diabetic they would choose to amputate all their child’s limbs and then put them through open heart surgery while they were in a persistently vegetative state, rather than let them go.

And it scares the shit out of me that thousands of activists out there have taken up the cause of parents who won’t let go and turned this into a “right to life” media circus.

I have a living will. I only hope that the people I love love me enough in return to respect it, should Terri Schiavo’s fate ever become mine. And I implore the courts to respect my wishes in this. The important part of me will already be dead. It’s only humane to allow the rest to follow.

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  1. i have to admit, i’m not real comfortable with starving her to death. having worked with people in her condition, i don’t believe extraordinary measures should be taken to prolong their lives, but if they are able to breathe and are relatively healthy, they should be allowed to live in as much comfort as possible. it’s only because there isn’t a living will that i don’t support removing her feeding tube, but not very strongly. she’s been dead a long time and isn’t aware of her condition. having her body around only satisfies her parents. i wonder what i’d think if i met her in person….

  2. oh, and the boy and i have to get on that living will! i’ve already told him that i wouldn’t keep him around like terry unless his sister wanted him.

  3. This is when I become firmly in favour of active euthenasia (with appropriate safeguards, of course). Why do we have to let people in this situation die of starvation over several days, in the pretense that it’s a more natural death than a quick overdose of morphine (or whatever)? We’re humane enough to give our pets a quick death if they’re beyond help, but we can’t extend that kindness to a fellow human…

    ^ ^




  4. I agree 100% with everything you said, I also have a living will. I have long ago told everyone who I possibly believe could decide my fate at that time that if they let me live under anything near the condition this poor woman has been in for 15 years that if it is possible in the afterlife I will come back to haunt them until the day they die and hopefully longer.

  5. We are getting this story as headlines in Australia too, on a daily basis.

    What worries me, is when I have completed my medical degree, I may be one of the people that come face to face with a situation such as this.

    I am fully 100% percent in agreement with you re this. She is dead already, and I am sure if one could ask her what she wanted, I have no doubt she would want to be let go.

    I dont understand this parents love bit? Maybe cos Im not a parent, but what I do understand is the fact if that were my kitty or dog suffering, I would love them enough to let them go.Shouldn’t this even be more of a reason with one’s child?

    Anyway…Just let it be known I too dont want to be kept in a state of being the "living dead" just cos others dont want to let me go.

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