■ End-of-Life Decisions

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ADVANCED DIRECTIVES & DOCTOR PRESCRIBED (ASSISTED) SUICIDE 

Eventually, each of us will confront end-of-life decisions for ourselves or in the lives of those we love. Most people understandably have mixed emotions. That’s why our laws must be sensitive to the human dimension of policies surrounding end-of-life decisions and you have the right to know about such proposals.

The Patients Rights Council (formerly known as the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide) is committed to the principle that you have the right to know all the facts about the critical issues of life, death, and assisted suicide. Few issues are as important as the compassionate treatment and care for those who are most vulnerable. PRC offers understanding and practical support to those who are facing critical situations for themselves or a loved one, and provide rational, factual information about the results of doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia.

We all have the responsibility to understand how proposed laws, ballot measures and even court cases will impact our lives, our families, and our society as a whole. We have to balance our feelings with our rational consideration to reach a result that works best for individuals and society. Visit the PRC website at www.patientsrightscouncil.org to learn more.


ABOUT ADVANCE DIRECTIVES & LIVING WILLS

What if you are young and healthy..? Or in poor health..? Or you have discussed your wishes about health care decisions with your family. Do you need an ‘advance directive?’ The answer is YES.

You are at risk unless you have taken the simple but necessary step of signing an advance directive that will protect you if you are ever unable to make your own health care decisions. This is known as a ‘durable power of attorney for health care’ and is NOT the same as another type of advance directive known as a ‘Living Will,’ a signed, witnessed or notarized document (sometimes called a ‘directive’ or a ‘declaration’) which is downright dangerous because it actually gives power over your life and death to an unknown physician.

Living Wills are the oldest type of health care advance directive. Most ‘declarations’ instruct an attending physician to withhold or withdraw medical interventions from its signer if he/she is in a terminal condition and is unable to make decisions about medical treatment. Since an attending physician who may be unfamiliar with the signer’s wishes and values has the power and authority to carry out the signer’s directive, certain terms contained in the document may be interpreted by the physician in a manner that was not intended by the signer. Family members and others who are familiar with the signer’s values and wishes have no legal standing to interpret the meaning of the directive.

In a durable power of attorney for health care you designate a trusted family member or friend to make health care decisions for you if you are unable—either temporarily or permanently—to do so for yourself. Most people think such a document is only for those who are very sick or very old which is not true. It’s absolutely essential for anyone who is 18 years old or older. Learn more about advance directives here.


MEET THE DIRECTOR OF PRC

You may be familiar with Rita Marker, a former adjunct professor of Political Science & Ethics at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, who has served as the executive director of the Patients Rights Council since it began in l987. She was among the first to be profiled in the American Medical Association’s American Medical News during its series on ‘people making news in an era of dramatic change in medicine,’ and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Deadly Compassion. (Wm. Morrow & Co., 1993; Harper/Collins, 1994; Avon Books, 1995), hailed as a ‘compelling, persuasive, well-written and revealing discussion of both the personal and public sides of the euthanasia debate.’

Rita is a contributor to Contemporary Perspectives on Rational Suicide (Taylor & Francis, 1999) and the author of articles that have appeared in numerous publications including the Akron Beacon Journal, American Thinker, Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit News, Duquesne Law Review, Journal of Pharmacy Technology, Maryland Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Michigan Hospitals, Saint John’s Journal of Legal Commentary, Senior Patient, State Government News and USA Today. She has made presentations and debated in Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, France, Belgium, England, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Switzerland, Slovenia and the United States.

Learn more or contact Rita here.

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