March 24, 2005
The case of Terri Schiavo is truly a double tragedy.
First, Terri collapsed in 1990 when she was only 26 years old.
Second, her family has fought for years over what her wishes were for life support. The court battles over removing life support began in 2000, when her husband sought to remove her feeding tube. Her husband claims Terri's wishes were not to be kept on life support. Her parents claim Terri's wishes were to be kept on life support. We will never know for sure what Terri's true wishes were because she did not have a living will (health care declaration).
This second tragedy could have been easily avoided and Terri's true wishes followed if Ms. Schiavo had a living will. This legal document lets you express your desires regarding your medical treatment and whether or not to withhold life support and nutrition. You also appoint someone to make sure your wishes are followed if you become unable to make those decisions yourself. Terri could have saved her family the added agony by having a living will expressing her wishes.
Do not let a similar tragedy happen to you and your family. If you do not have a living will (also known as an advance directive, or health care declaration) you should consult an attorney today about having your living will properly prepared.