State by state, revisiting end-of-life law

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Yesterday, in an entry about the 1982 "Baby Doe" case in Indiana and the Terri Schiavo case, I wrote:

Preventing similar tragedies in the future will require ... that we understand the laws as they are today and then work with legislators to build in safeguards against the kind of judicial tyranny we saw at work in Pinellas County, Florida.

Proving that great minds think alike, Corie Schweitzer, of Insane Troll Logic, e-mailed to let me know that she has begun that task in Texas:

I think it would be a fitting tribute to Terri to work on finding out what each state's laws regarding end of life issues with respect to incapacitated persons and then working to have those laws changed to ensure that, in the absence of many safeguards to ensure that the incapacitated person's explicit wishes are explicitly known, that no one may be deprived of their life.

Corie contacted her state representative and state senator, who pointed her to the applicable section of law. She began looking through the statutes for potential problems, and here's one she found:

Subsection C says that the decision to withhold life support "must be based on knowledge of what the patient would desire, if known" [emphasis mine].

1) It does not define what exactly constitutes "knowing" what the patient desires, since the statute is already dealing with patients WITHOUT AN ADVANCED DIRECTIVE. The law should specify exactly what kinds of evidence could be presented as proof of wishes and what could not be presented.

Corie has some good suggestions for how to work with your state legislators to address the problems you find. She deserves encouragement and emulation. I will look forward to following her progress in Texas and hope that she will serve as an example to pro-life bloggers in the other 49 states.


When my grandparents were alive, they had a residence in three different states. They had to have their DNRs and living wills specified three times so they if the worst were to happen in any one of the three, they would be covered. It is very important to know the laws of, not just the state you live in, but the laws in the state(s) your loved ones live in.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 9, 2005 12:35 AM.

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