France Allows Withdrawal of Treatment
In an initial step to expand choice at the end of life, France has passed a law that allows doctors to remove life support if there is no hope to achieve an improvement in the person's health and if these extend life artificially. For the first time in France, terminally ill patients are able to stop treatment, and families of unconscious patients can request withdrawal of life support.
Pennsylvania Court Upholds Advance Directives
A Pennsylvania county court recently stopped a health care surrogate from enforcing a medical decision that was contrary to the patient's written directives. John King, 72, is an elderly Alzheimer's patient who is permanently unconscious. Though his living will stated that he did not want tube feeding under any circumstances, his wife and legal decision-maker requested a feeding tube. Mr. King's daughter, who is his co-surrogate, has prevailed in the Bucks County Court so far.
Terri Schiavo Postscript
Autopsy results on Terri Schiavo were released by the attending medical examiner on June 15. The findings show that Mrs. Schiavo had irreversible brain damage with no possibility of consciousness, and that she was blind. There were no indications of physical abuse, as well as no proof that Mrs. Schiavo suffered from an eating disorder, as alleged in a 1992 civil trial. The cause of her initial collapse remains unknown.
Mrs. Schiavo's case became known nationwide during a bitter court battle between her husband and her parents over whether she would have wanted to be kept alive artificially. Mrs. Schiavo's tragic and even yet unexplained collapse at age 26 underscores the need for all Americans to create advance directives and make their health care wishes known.