Terri Talk

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Our Readers

I think it should seem obvious after the recent situation in Florida, that in cases, where no medical directive exists for a patient, that there needs to be agreement by all sides in a family before any withdrawal of treatment can be justly considered.

In the modern, compassionate, and enlightened society that we aspire to be, it seems inconceivable and unnecessarily cruel that in these situations parents’ feelings are ultimately allowed to be overruled legally by a daughter or son -in law and they are then left to watch helplessly as their loved one is left to die.

Regardless of one’s own feelings on the “sanctity of life” or what qualifies as a “meaningful existence”, this enforced powerlessness on caregivers in this case, parents, must surely qualify as cruel and barbaric.

This seems plainly to be an outdated and ultimately disrespectful concept. I find the notion completely repugnant that in matters of life and death a child ultimately becomes the sole “property” of their spouse and that the feelings and needs of the parents and siblings in these situations can be ultimately over ruled.

If this is what our current legal system allows, then I think it is imperative that it be changed. With the increasing transient and temporary nature of marriage and conjugal relationships, the legal assumption that spouses should ultimately have all the power for making a decision in these very difficult and emotional circumstances seems to be inviting more such torturous and emotionally cruel spectacles as the Schiavo case in our society.

In circumstances such as these where there is disagreement on caring for a severely disabled individual, I can see no compassionate reason why parents’ feelings can be humanely over ruled.

If there has been no directive from the patient, and no agreement among the immediate family involved such as parents, spouse, and siblings, then it would then seem best “to err on the side of life”.

I believe that our laws should reflect that important principle as soon as possible. This would also perhaps put pressure on more individuals to write out their directives and discuss them with all interested family members so that, should they fear the law “erring on the side of life” in their own case, their personal wishes would not be the source of speculation and conjecture, but a written, legal document that all surviving parties would be able to acknowledge.

Rex Leonard

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