Groups Partner After Terri Schiavo Death Anniversary for Pro-Life Living Wills

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Groups Partner After Terri Schiavo Death Anniversary for Pro-Life Living Wills

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 7
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Following the death of Terri Schiavo, the mainstream media and community groups like AARP promoted the signing of living wills. On the heels of the fourth anniversary of Terri’s husband subjecting her to a painful euthanasia death, two pro-life groups are working together to promote a pro-life advanced directive.

The National Right to Life has championed the Will to Live since 1992 and now the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life legal group, has climbed on board to help promote it.

As part of the project, thousands of attorneys allied with ADF across the country will make themselves available to provide free legal advice to assist individuals to fill out the proper will to live documents for their state of residence.

The Will to Live is a legal document anyone can sign that starts from the medical principle that patients desire to live and don’t want lifesaving medical treatment, or basic food and water — as in Terri’s case — denied to them.

Jennifer Popik, an NRLC attorney, explains the benefit of the Will to Live compared with other traditional documents.

"There is a growing danger that you may be denied necessary medical treatment or even starved or dehydrated should you become unable to speak for yourself," she explains. "If you have or have thought about filling out other living will documents, it is important to be aware of the danger that they are often insufficiently protective."

Popik says living wills and other documents "may use vague terms or broad ethical principles when specific directions are more appropriate."

She also says the "typical living will document starts from a presumption for death in the case of disability, rather than for life."

"Generally speaking, the Will to Live allows you to name a health care agent whom you trust to safeguard your life when you cannot speak for yourself," the pro-life attorney says. "It allows you to name backup agents if your first choice cannot serve."

"It allows you to describe the treatment you do and do not want in order to guide your health care agent and physicians. It protects your family and health care agent by allowing them to show what you really did want. It relieves the agony of decision-making for them by making your wishes clear," Popik continues.

National Right to Life continually updates these documents so users of them may have access to a legal and individualized Will to Live for each of the 50 states.

Douglas Napier, senior legal counsel at ADF, talked about his group’s involvement in promoting the Will to Live.

"Choosing the right advance directive and the right wording can be a matter of life and death," he says.

"The Alliance Defense Fund is pleased to support this important pro-life effort through its nationwide network of allied attorneys who can assist people in properly completing their Will to Live. These same attorneys may also be called upon to defend the clients’ expressed desires with regard to medical treatment, nutrition and hydration," Napier went on to say.

Visit the web sites of either group to download the most current forms and find an attorney in your area who can help you further.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life Will to Live –
ADF Will to Live –

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