Can you believe that someone could be so cruel to the very parent who gave them life????

I read the following in my email box earlier, and it gave me pause, for sure.  I’d always thought the idea of a “living will” to be a good one.  As best I understood it, one could put in writing her desire to go “peacefully into that good night . . . ” without lingering on like a cabbage connected to a high-tech irrigation system of life-prolonging tubes and wires.

Well, according this article, a living will also gives one’s relatives and physicians the ability to withhold food and water when one has ceased to have value in the eyes of those relatives and/or physicians.  At least that’s the way I read it.  Tell me what you think.  Do you think your kids should be able to decide when you’ve lived a good, long life?  When it should end?  And should they be able to decide to end it by withholding food and water?  How humane is that????

Louisiana Court Allows Family to Withdraw Life-Sustaining Nutrition, Hydration from Mother

WEST MONROE, Louisiana, August 23, 2004 ( – An 89 year-old woman who suffered a debilitating stroke is being denied life-sustaining food and water by her family and doctors — a court said it was okay because Doris Smith signed a living will. The daughter of the woman argues, however, that her mother never intended to be starved to death when she signed the legal document before her stroke.

Nurses at the nursing home stopped administering food and water to Mrs. Smith Monday, following the instruction of two other children, despite the efforts of attorney Jack Wright. The Louisiana Supreme Court refused to hear Smith’s daughter, Oris Pettis’, appeal. “We’re at the end,” Wright told the Associated Press.

“Most people have no idea that when it states in a Living Will/Power of Attorney that no further medical treatment will be provided in certain circumstances that it means they will also be denied food and fluids,” according to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. “The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is called regularly by people who have no intention of granting their doctor or family members the right to dehydrate and starve them to death and yet have a Living Will/Power of Attorney document that would do just that.”

Pettis argued in three courts that her mother was not aware that waiving her right to “life-sustaining procedures” included the denial of food and water. The document signed by Smith is nearly identical to a standard state form used by thousands of Louisianans. In a list of definitions, not located directly on the living will form, but separately, is included the denial of food and water as part of the forfeiture of life-sustaining procedures.

“To intentionally kill someone by dehydration and starvation is euthanasia,” Schadenberg said. “This differs from removing fluids and food from someone who is nearing death and who’s body is shutting down, that act is normal protocol.”

“The dehydration and starvation of Doris Smith is a wake-up call,” Schadenberg continued. “The message is that everyone needs a Power of Attorney document that protects them. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care. It is a legal document that will protect you from being dehydrated or starved to death and allow you to die a natural dignified death.”

Contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for more information:

Read local coverage:

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