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
FSU College of Law Public Law Research Paper No. 153
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
Date posted: April 8, 2005