Advance Directives to Withhold Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment: Eroding Autonomy Through Statutory Reform
Flinders Journal of Law Reform, 10(2), pp. 287-314
Posted: 13 Jul 2016
Date Written: 2007
How an adult’s life comes to an end has been a topic of considerable public interest and scrutiny in recent times. In New South Wales, the Supreme Court refused to grant relief to the family of a 75 year old man, Isaac Messiha, who sought an order requiring the hospital to continue giving life support to him. In Victoria, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal appointed the Public Advocate to be guardian of Maria Korp; the Advocate later making a decision to withdraw her life-support. In the United States, after many years of legal dispute and, in the spotlight of the world media, life-support was withdrawn from Terri Schiavo. All of these cases generated a high level of public interest and debate on the question of when it is appropriate to stop such treatment. These cases may have been resolved more simply and with less controversy if the adult had completed an advance directive: a document indicating the treatment that he or she would have wanted in such circumstances.
Keywords: Advance health directives, Advance care directives, Advance care planning, Autonomy, End-of-life decision-making
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