As Terri Schiavo Remembered, Pro-Life Group Urges Protective Measures

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

As Terri Schiavo Remembered, Pro-Life Group Urges Protective Measures Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 28, 2006

Washington, DC ( — As millions of Americans mourn Terri Schiavo’s euthanasia death on its one-year anniversary Friday, a pro-life is urging people to complete a pro-life version of an advanced directive in order to prevent becoming the next person sentenced to death by the courts or family members.

"Terri’s death was a gross injustice that marked a sad day in our history when our society allowed Terri, a woman with a severe disability, to be discarded in such a cruel and inhumane manner," says Burke Balch, the director of medical ethics for the National Right to Life Committee.

Balch said his group wants Americans to do two things to make a difference: complete a Will to Live form from NRLC and contact your state legislators and urge laws to protect disabled people.

The Will to Live form allows patients to clearly express the kinds of treatment they want should they be unable to make their own health care decisions down the road.

Balch says the form is vitally important because an NRLC study shows the laws of all but ten states may allow doctors and hospitals to disregard advance directives when the directives call for treatment, food, or fluids. The form is designed to make it clear that a patient wants food and fluids continued.

Following Terri Schiavo’s death, many groups and the media have focused on urging Americans to complete living will forms. However, NRLC reports that, increasingly, health care providers who consider a patient’s "quality of life" too low are defying these directives in order to deny treatment against patient and family wishes.

"We believe most Americans will be frightened to learn that four-fifths of the states do not clearly protect their right to choose food, fluids, or life-preserving medical treatment," explains Dorothy Timbs, legislative counsel for NRLC’s medical ethics center.

"Americans should fill out an advance directive like the Will to Live available on NRLC’s website to make clear your wish not to be denied food or treatment clear," Timbs added. "However, it is equally important to work for legal reform so that your choice for life will be honored."

Related web sites:
NRLC Will to Live –