If That Ever Happens to Me: Making Life and Death Decisions after Terri Schiavo

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Univ of North Carolina Press, Jun 1, 2009 - Medical - 240 pages
Every day, thousands of people quietly face decisions as agonizing as those made famous in the Terri Schiavo case. Throughout that controversy, all kinds of people--politicians, religious leaders, legal and medical experts--made emphatic statements about the facts and offered even more certain opinions about what should be done. To many, courts were either ordering Terri's death by starvation or vindicating her constitutional rights. Both sides called for simple answers. If That Ever Happens to Me details why these simple answers were not right for Terri Schiavo and why they are not right for end-of-life decisions today.

Lois Shepherd looks behind labels like "starvation," "care," or "medical treatment" to consider what care and feeding really mean, when feeding tubes might be removed, and why disability groups, the faithful, and even the dying themselves often suggest end-of-life solutions that they might later regret. For example, Shepherd cautions against living wills as a pat answer. She provides evidence that demanding letter-perfect documents can actually weaken, rather than bolster, patient choice.

The actions taken and decisions made during Terri Schiavo's final years will continue to have repercussions for thousands of others--those nearing death, their families, health-care professionals, attorneys, lawmakers, clergy, media, researchers, and ethicists. If That Ever Happens to Me is an excellent choice for anyone interested in end-of-life law, policy, and ethics--particularly readers seeking a deeper understanding of the issues raised by Terri Schiavo's case.


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If that ever happens to me: making life and death decisions after Terri Schiavo

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As illustrated so heartbreakingly in the Terri Schiavo case, it is extremely difficult to determine a patient's wishes in end-of-life decisions because all the idiosyncrasies of individual situations ... Read full review


1 Disorders of Consciousness and the Permanent Vegetative State
2 Legal and Political Wrangling over Terris Life
3 In ContextLaw and Ethics
4 Terris Wishes
5 The Limits of Evidence
6 The Implications of Surrogacy
8 Feeding
9 The Preservation of Life
An Alternative Framework
NRLCS Model Act as Proposed in State Legislation

7 Qualities of Life

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About the author (2009)

Lois Shepherd is associate professor of public health sciences and professor of law at the University of Virginia. She is coauthor of Bioethics and the Law.

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