The Living Will: Death Without Dignity
The Living Will - a document by which a person can give, in advance, a
directive to have life-sustaining medical treatment withheld or discontinued at the time
of future serious illness or injury - should be avoided by anyone who respects the
sanctity of human life.
Why? Because Living Wills were conceived and designed by
right-to-die (pro-euthanasia) organizations and have more to do with dying
than living. [In 1967, the first living will was written by the Euthanasia Society
of America and attorney Luis Kutner.] Signing a Living Will allows
decisions about a patient's health care to be made by unknown medical personnel when the
patient is not able to make these decisions.
If these medical personnel believe the patients potential for recovery or
"quality of life" is too low to warrent life saving measures, they may interpret
the Living Will to mean whatever they consider appropriate to justify denial
of treatments such as a ventilator or feeding tube. [Read more]
Indeed, according to Dr. Brian Clowes, author of The Facts of Life (HLI), there are
several problems with Living Wills, as follows:
1) The person usually signs it long before he knows if or when he will be
incapacitated, or what the circumstances of that incapacitation will be. This means that
the person cannot specify the desired details of his treatment for future medical
2) Changes to or revocation of a Living Will depend upon an
individuals condition. If he should experience a change of heart after he is
incapable of communicating, he is out of luck.
3) If a person would like to change or revoke his Living Will, he may find
that it is very difficult to locate all original and duplicated copies of the document.
[To revoke your Living Will, make sure that you destroy all the
original copies, and as many duplicated copies as you can locate with relatives, medical
personnel, and medical facilities.]
4) The wording of the original Living Will may remain the same, but the law
governing its application may change. For example, Florida Living Wills now
presume that patients refuse food and water unless otherwise specified - a fundamental
change from the laws original meaning (p. 115).
Self-Protection Document (available from IRLC) is an important alternative to
the pro-euthanasia Living Will. It is a durable power of attorney for
health care that: counters the nationwide push to remove food and fluids from dying (and
non-dying) patients; opposes euthanasia either by omission or commission; allows the
appointment of a trusted agent to carry out one's Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding
treatment/non-treatment if one is unable to do so.
Is the Patient
Self-Protection Document necessary? Yes, and for two reasons:
1) There is an Illinois law entitled the Health Care Surrogate Act (also known as Life
Sustaining Decisions Act), which allows for the removal of food and water from a terminal
or non-terminal patient by directive of a surrogate designated by law.
2) The 1990 federal law, the Patient Self-Determination Act, requires any medical
institution accepting Medicare and Medicaid funding to ask entering patients if they have
an advance directive. If the patient's answer is no, an option to
complete an advance directive is offered, usually a Living Will in
standardized format. The patient is not obligated to complete an advance directive, but
may feel pressured under such circumstances. If the patient accepts the offer, the
medical institution will record any advance directive signed by the patient.
To obtain printed copies of the Patient
Self-Protection Document, or for additional information on the dangers of the Living
Will, please contact Illinois Right to Life Committee at 312-422-9300 or by
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.