SPURRED BY SCHINDLER-SCHIAVO CASE, MODEL STATE LAW TO PREVENT STARVATION AND DEHYDRATION PROPOSED
In response to the
denial of food and fluids to Terri Schindler-Schiavo,
the National Right to Life Committee is calling on state legislatures
throughout the nation to move to protect people with disabilities from being
denied food and fluids. The organization is issuing a “Model Starvation and
Dehydration of Persons with Disabilities Prevention Act.”
“Far from being an isolated
instance, the attempted starvation and dehydration of Terri Schindler-Schiavo
is typical of the denial of food and fluids in less publicized cases taking
place daily in nursing homes and hospitals across America,” said Burke J.
Balch, J.D., director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics,
affiliated with the National Right to Life Committee.
“For years, people who never
asked to die have been quietly starved without much public attention, based
on state laws and court opinions that permit third parties to make deadly
decisions with little or no scrutiny or accountability,” Balch said. “The
outcry over the Schindler-Schiavo case has awakened millions of Americans to
the inhumanity of this practice. Now we must act to reverse this trend, and
restore a presumption against starvation and dehydration.”
The proposed model law,
drafted to be easily adaptable for each state, is written to be
constitutional under the governing precedents of the United States Supreme
Court. It would create a presumption that those incapable of making health
care decisions would wish to get food and fluids so long as their provision
is medically possible, would not itself hasten death, and can be digested or
absorbed so as to sustain life.
The presumption would not
apply if the person has specifically authorized withholding or withdrawal in
an applicable legal document (advance directive).
“We must not let the horror
and outrage over the attempted starvation and dehydration of Terri
Schindler-Schiavo dwindle and die away before we have acted to secure
protection for the thousands facing s similar fate,” said NRLC Executive
Director David N. O’Steen, Ph.D.
Questions And Answers On The Model State
Starvation And Dehydration
Of Persons With Disabilities Prevention
the Model State Starvation and Dehydration of
Persons with Disabilities