I really should be getting on the road, but I couldn't pass up this article
from Michelle Malkin
I've tried to stay silent on the Terry Schiavo story. (Well, not with Trish. She can tell you about some debates we've had.) But through it all, everyone seems to believe that Terry's situation wouldn't be an issue if she had just signed a living will.
James Q. Wilson noted some of the problems earlier this week:
Some people believe that all of these issues can be resolved if everyone signs a living will that specifies what is to be done to them under various conditions. The living will is supposed to determine unambiguously when a "Do Not Resuscitate" sign should be placed on a patient's hospital chart. Terri Schiavo had not signed a living will. If she had, we would not be facing these issues.
But scholars have shown that we have greatly exaggerated the benefits of living wills. Studies by University of Michigan Professor Carl Schneider and others have shown that living wills rarely make any difference. People with them are likely to get exactly the same treatment as people without them, possibly because doctors and family members ignore the wills. And ignoring them is often the right thing to do because it is virtually impossible to write a living will that anticipates and makes decisions about all of the many, complicated, and hard to foresee illnesses you may face.
I have heard similar things from other sources: that a Living Will doesn't do any good unless you discuss it with the doctor in advance and get his agreement and understanding. In that context, the Living Will simply becomes legal documentation to back up what the doctor says later. And even then, I hear, many doctors will disregard the Living Will at the crisis point. Maybe it's a God complex, maybe it's an optimism that "this crisis" (whatever is going on) won't be as bad as it might appear, maybe it's just hubris.
Michelle mentions two better alternatives, durable power of attorney (DPA), and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The DPA sounds like what I would want in this case anyway, and I guess I'll need to look into the other as an option.