Friday, February 12, 2010

When a Living Will becomes a Killing Will

Recently we received three Power of Attorney/Living Will legal documents that appear to be designed as Killing Will documents.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document whereby you assign a person to make medical and care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself. These are important legal documents because the wording of the document can either protect your life or cause your death.

My concern is that many people have their lawyer draw up a Will and Power of Attorney document without understanding how the language in the Power of Attorney document may be neutral, may protect their life, or may actually hasten their death.

Last week a supporter contacted us to read his Power of Attorney for Personal Care document. He was shocked that he had signed a document that instructed the physician to dehydrate him to death if he were terminally ill or living with a chronic condition.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care to protect you from being abandoned, when you need care. We only charge $25 for this document. Order the document here: Link.

Recently, a supporter sent me their Power of Attorney document that is the worst one. It stated:
If and when it becomes clear beyond any reasonable doubt that I am afflicted with or suffering from an irreversible injury, disease, illness or condition that is terminal, then:(a) I direct that I be allowed to die, and that I not be kept alive by artificial means or invasive measures of any kind. Measures of prolonging life that are to be avoided, withheld, withdrawn or discontinued include:(i) electrical or mechanical resuscitation of my heart;(ii) nasogastric tube feedings, gastric tube feedings or parentral nutrition;(iii) artificial mechanical respiration when my brain can no longer sustain my own breathing;(iv) radiation treatment and chemotherapy, unless used strictly as palliative measures;(v) any treatment for any other illness or disease (such as pneumonia) which I contract when already afflicted with a terminal disease, illness or condition (such as Alzheimer's Dementia); and(vi) dialysis when my kidneys fail.(b) I request that a "Do Not Resuscitate" ("DNR") notification be kept with me at all times - whether I am at home, living with family or friends, or in a hospital or other health care facility.(c) I desire that medication be mercifully administered to alleviate pain and suffering, even though the result may be to hasten the moment of my death.(d) If I am under the care of a physician whose moral, religious or personal professional beliefs are not in sympathy with the directives set out herein, I direct my attorney for personal care to ask that physician to withdraw from my care and to arrange for me to be cared for by another physician whose beliefs and views accord more closely with my directives, and, if necessary, to transfer me to a different hospital or health care facility to better ensure that my wishes as expressed herein are respected.
The problem I have with this document is that it not only orders the physician to not provide any medical treatment, other than palliative care, but it also orders the physician to dehydrate the person to death, even if they are not in the dying phase. Read section (a), subsection (ii).

Further to that, the person who sent me this document was a suppoorter of our work and this was the document that his lawyer was suggesting that he sign.

The fact is that many unsuspecting people have obtained, legally signed, and put-in-place, similar power of attorney for personal care documents without knowing how the document will be interpreted.

Further to that: Power of Attorney for Personal Care documents are only legally binding when the person is incapable of making legal decisions for themselves. At that point the document can't be amended.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect you from being killed. We charge $25 for this document. The information for ordering the document is at: link.


Lily said...

Hi Alex!
Do the forms you sell require you appoint someone? Like a substitute decision maker? I lost my caregiver she was my power of attorney, financial trustee and substitute decision maker(if needed)she is longer able to act as any of those and I am worried about being under the public guardian and trustee, is there any way to make sure they don't get to make decisions regarding me care?

Alex Schadenberg said...

Our Power of Attorney document allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you, when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

It also states what you want and don't want for medical treatment.

Lily said...

What happens when you don't have anyone you can appoint? Are you stuck with the public guardian and trustee?