Advanced Directives Authorizing Medical Decisions OK, Samuel Alito Says

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Advanced Directives Authorizing Medical Decisions OK, Samuel Alito Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 12, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Supreme Court nomine Samuel Alito told the Senate judicial panel that that Americans have the legal right to designate another family member to make end of life medical care decisions on their behalf. Those decisions could include carrying out a patient’s wishes to not have lifesaving medical treatment.

Sen. Pat Leahy, a Vermont lawmaker who is the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, mentioned the legal battle surrounding Terri Schiavo.

Leahy asked Alito whether someone using a living will can designate someone else to ask that extraordinary measures not be used to keep the patient alive.

"Yes, that’s, I think, an extension of the traditional right that I was talking about that existed under common law," Alito said referring to the right to refuse medical treatment.

Alito added that the right has "been developed by state legislatures, and in some instances, state courts to deal with the living will situation and advances."

Alito repeated to Leahy what he told Sen. Diane Feinstein yesterday, saying that advances in medicine will "create new issues in this area."

As he did yesterday, Alito seemed to support Congress’ intervention in the Terri Schiavo case when it directed a federal judge to give Terri Schiavo’s parents a new hearing on their efforts to prevent Terri’s euthanasia death.

In a variation on thee bill authorizing that, Leahy asked Alito if a Senate committee could subpoena a death row inmate to testify just hours before he is scheduled to be executed.

Alito said he could see no reason why that wouldn’t be allowed.