Why Are You at Risk if You Don’t Sign a Will to Live? —
The Dangers in Current Legal Standards and Medical Practice
Download A Current Will To Live Form Here (Revised 2005)
The following is taken from the article by Burke J. Balch,
J.D. Director, NRLC Department of Medical Ethics
(full text available from Arkansas Right to Life).
Today, any of us who might become unable to speak for ourselves
because of an illness or the development of a disability is in
very grave danger of being denied life-saving medical treatment and even food and fluids if we have not left precise instructions
to the contrary.
Why? Because the last 25 years have seen the rapid acceptance of "surrogacy" — a
legal term that covers the ability of another person to order the denial of
to someone who is incompetent but has left no clear description of wishes,
on "behalf" of the incompetent patient.
The once-dominant view that
the presumption is for life unless it is clear that the patient would have
rejected treatment is now
the law only in some circumstances in a very few states. The
bottom line is that non-voluntary euthanasia, in the form of denial
life-saving medical treatment, food, and fluids to patients who
cannot speak for themselves and have never expressed their
is now the legal norm in most of this country.
The other side of
the legal coin is that, to date, most of the court cases dealing
with this area indicate that if the patient
has expressed clear wishes, those wishes take precedence over
what a surrogate might otherwise do. In short, from a legal perspective,
if you do not make your own preferences clear, the odds are high
that if you become incompetent someone else, whom you may not
know, will be able to cut off treatment, food, and fluids. On
the other hand, setting down your desire to receive them in a legally
binding advance directive like the Will to Live will go far
to protect your right to do so.
These facts underline the need for
you to prepare a Will to Live. You simply cannot assume that
the typical physician in America
today will automatically make or recommend the treatment decisions concerning your life that you would make, just as you cannot
assume that the law, in its current state, will protect your life
clear evidence of your wishes. To assist you in providing clear
health care instructions so that your life and health can be
protected, National Right to Life has prepared a Will to Live document.
Arkansas, the Will to Live may be prepared with or without
the assistance of an attorney. For more information, contact
Arkansas Right to Life for
your free copy of the Will
to Live. Do it today!
Download A Current Will To
Live Form Here (Revised 2005)