Your Opinion: Slippery slope on living wills?

Dear Editor:

In the Tribune’s Active Times of July 1, p 8, the lawyer explained a living will in one sentence, “A Living Will Instructs your healthcare provider to withdraw life support if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state thereby protecting your estate from continued economic loss.”

Several words (in italics) deserve comment:

Instructs and withdraw life support: Whether the will says that or not, depends on the instructions given to your proxy who would then inform medical personnel.

Terminally: Rather vague verbiage subject to a wide medical interpretation. A day? A week? A month? A year? Who knows now what medical science may develop in the future?

Vegetative: A derogatory word verging on the edge of defamatory. Humans do not become vegetables. Even in a deep coma, a person may hear, may feel touch, have blood circulation, etc. I do not know any such vegetable. However, I personally know of a case some 50 years ago of a woman lying comatose in a hospital bed for more than seven months; she woke up and went home.

Protecting and economic loss: Truly astounding that a human life is to be evaluated in terms of money! I’m speechless. Let’s get rid of grandmother, dad, wife, or sister so that we survivors can use her estate for ourselves? Greed is the source of all evils. I thought lawyers liked to parse words. Possibly I have misparsed the sentence.

Finally, decisions made today about life-issues may change in later time because of changing one’s own mind or newly developing medical discoveries and expertise.

As local signs state, “Caution, wet floor.” Parsed, “Danger, slippery slope.”

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