Friday, February 12, 2010

What Then Is A Natural Death?

Alex Schadenberg warns those vulnerable and child-like seniors, incapable of making their own health care decisions, to stay far, far away from those evil living will forms because their lawyers, their family, and doctors are trying to kill them!

Can you think of a greater disservice anyone with the public's ear could do for seniors? Convince them that living wills are deadly? When we living in an age where every citizen should write up a living will as soon as they reach voting age?! And update it annually.

It is just this sort of irresponsible fear-mongering and redefining of natural death, or rather illogical defining of "the culture of death," that alarms me about those who ascribe to a "pro-life" perspective on end of life care. Shaming or scaring seniors into making the decisions you feel they should is coercion, plain and simple. And perpetuates the fear of death and dying that our society battles.

From his site, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition:

Living Will - Killing Will

During the last few days I have received three Power of Attorney/ Living Will legal documents that in fact are designed as Killing Will documents.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document that assigns a person to make medical and care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself. These are important documents because the wording of the document will either protect your life and or may give medical professionals the right to abandon you or even dehydrate you to death.

My concern is that many people will visit their lawyer and have a Will and Power of Attorney documents drawn up for them without understanding that the language in the Power of Attorney document may be neutral, may protect their life, or may actually hasten their death.

Last week a supporter contacted me after reading his Power of Attorney for Personal Care document. He was shocked that he had signed a document that instructed the physician to dehydrate him to death if he were terminally ill or living with a chronic condition.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care to protect you from being killed. We charge $25 for this document. The information for ordering the document is at:

Today, I received a Power of Attorney document from a supporter that was by far the worst one I have seen in a while. It stated:

If and when it becomes clear beyond any reasonable doubt that I am afflicted with or suffering from an irreversible injury, disease, illness or condition that is terminal, then:
(a) I direct that I be allowed to die, and that I not be kept alive by artificial means or invasive measures of any kind. Measures of prolonging life that are to be avoided, withheld, withdrawn or discontinued include:
(i) electrical or mechanical resuscitation of my heart;
(ii) nasogastric tube feedings, gastric tube feedings or parentral nutrition;
(iii) artificial mechanical respiration when my brain can no longer sustain my own breathing;
(iv) radiation treatment and chemotherapy, unless used strictly as palliative measures;
(v) any treatment for any other illness or disease (such as pneumonia) which I contract when already afflicted with a terminal disease, illness or condition (such as Alzheimer's Dementia); and
(vi) dialysis when my kidneys fail.
(b) I request that a "Do Not Resuscitate" ("DNR") notification be kept with me at all times - whether I am at home, living with family or friends, or in a hospital or other health care facility.
(c) I desire that medication be mercifully administered to alleviate pain and suffering, even though the result may be to hasten the moment of my death.
(d) If I am under the care of a physician whose moral, religious or personal professional beliefs are not in sympathy with the directives set out herein, I direct my attorney for personal care to ask that physician to withdraw from my care and to arrange for me to be cared for by another physician whose beliefs and views accord more closely with my directives, and, if necessary, to transfer me to a different hospital or health care facility to better ensure that my wishes as expressed herein are respected.

The problem I have with this document is that it not only orders the physician to not provide any medical treatment, other than palliative care, but it also orders the physician to dehydrate the person to death, even if they are not in the dying phase. Read section (a), subsection (ii).

Further to that, the person who sent me this document was a suppoorter of our work and this was the document that his lawyer was suggesting that everyone obtain.

The fact is that many unsuspecting people have obtained, legally signed, and put-in-place, similar power of attorney for personal care documents without knowing how the document will be interpreted.

Further to that: Power of Attorney for Personal Care documents are only legally binding when the person is incapable of making legal decisions. At that point the document can't be amended.

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


February 12, 2010 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Mary Valle said...

Eeeek!!!! Am I going to have to file an Advance-Advance Directive-Redirective-No-Seriously-Let-Me-Die now?

February 13, 2010 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger L A Neumann said...

I know! It's crazy, isn't it, that we have to work so hard to ensure that we just die when it's time. I have no interest in leaving everything up to God - He and I don't always agree - but I also don't want science to prop me up like a display!

Great to hear from you! A

February 13, 2010 at 6:47 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home