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In Respect of People Living in a Permanent Vegetative State - And Allowing Them to Die


Lois L. Shepherd


University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities; University of Virginia School of Law

May 2005

FSU College of Law Public Law Research Paper No. 153

Abstract:     
This article considers the controversy surrounding the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube and argues for a new approach in determining treatment decisions for people in a permanent vegetative state. Examination of the duty to respect living people as persons rather than as objects reveals that people in a permanent vegetative state are particularly vulnerable under our current statutory and case law to being kept alive only in service to the interests of others. The article proposes that we replace the current legal presumption in favor of continued life support with a presumption to discontinue it for those in a permanent vegetative state and that judicial or quasi-judicial review be brought to bear on decisions in favor of continued life support, particularly tube feeding.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 77

Keywords: dying, vegetative, death, feeding, nutrition, hydration, schiavo, pvs, disability, unconscious, life-sustaining, life-prolonging, surrogate, proxy, tube, presumption, instrument, object, coma, florida, cruzan, life support, tube feeding, gastronomy, advance directive, living will, patient rights

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Date posted: April 8, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Shepherd, Lois L., In Respect of People Living in a Permanent Vegetative State - And Allowing Them to Die (May 2005). FSU College of Law Public Law Research Paper No. 153. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=700245 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.700245

Contact Information

Lois L. Shepherd (Contact Author)
University of Virginia Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities ( email )
Box 800758
Charlottesville, VA 22901
United States
434-982-3970 (Phone)
University of Virginia School of Law
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
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