Home > Hospice & End Of Life Issues > End-of-Life Decisions: Should The Government Be Involved?

End-of-Life Decisions: Should The Government Be Involved?

Five years after Terri Schiavo died after having a Court ordered removal of her feeding tube, experts on End-of-Life issues say not much has changed. It’s estimated that only 20%-30% of Americans have advance care directives, about the same number as in 2005. The Schiavo case turned into a 7-year legal battle between Terri’s husband and her parents after she suffered a cardiac arrest on February 25, 1990. She suffered massive brain damage due to lack of oxygen and, after two and a half months in a coma, her diagnosis was elevated to vegetative state. For the next few years, doctors attempted physical therapy and other experimental therapy, hoping to return Terri to a state of awareness, but the legal battles ensued. At issue was whether the equipment that was being used to sustain her life since 1990 – specifically a feeding tube– should have been disconnected, thereby allowing her to die.

Also at issue was the absence of a living will or any end-of-life directive. A trial was held during the week of January 24, 2000, to determine what Terri’s wishes would have been regarding life-prolonging procedures. Testimony from eighteen witnesses regarding her medical condition and her end-of-life wishes was heard. Her husband, Michael Schiavo claimed that Terri would not want to be kept on a machine when her chance for recovery was minuscule. According to Abstract Appeal Trial Order, her parents “claimed that Terri was a devout Roman Catholic who would not wish to violate the Church’s teachings on euthanasia by refusing nutrition and hydration.” Judge George Greer issued his order granting Michael’s petition for authorization to discontinue artificial life support for his wife in February 2000. In this decision, the Court found that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state and that she had made reliable oral declarations that she would have wanted the feeding tube removed.

life line? by *forcedtobeanartist on deviantART

Without passing judgment on whether this one issue of not having an end-of-life directive would have prevented the public, personal and political catastrophe that ensued, experts stress the importance of such a document for avoiding uncertainties in such a difficult personal and moral decision. The rehabilitation efforts for Terri Schiavo lasted three years. The legal cases surrounding this end-of-life issue lasted seven years from 1998-2005 and included the following Court proceedings:

·Petition to remove feeding tube ·Schiavo I: end-of-life wishes ·Oral feeding and the Second Guardianship Challenge ·Schiavo II- In April 2001, Terri’s parents filed a motion for relief from judgment citing new evidence of Terri’s wishes but the Court denied it. ·Schiavo Second feeding tube removal and state involvement: Terri’s Law ·Sciavo III & IV: PVS diagnosis challenge ·Final feeding tube removal and federal involvement.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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