Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney
McCarrick, Pat Milmoe
(Scope Note 2 has been revised and updated to reflect new material on advance directives.) Medical technology can sustain indefinitely the vital functions of some people who are terminally ill or who exist in a persistent vegetative state. Legislation has been enacted in the District of Columbia and all states except Pennsylvania to allow competent persons to express choices about their treatment in the event that they become incompetent and/or terminally ill and cannot participate in decisions concerning their care. These choices when written are known as advance directives, living wills, or durable powers of attorney. In Deciding to Forego Life-Sustaining Treatment: Ethical, Medical and Legal Issues in Treatment Decisions, the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research said that “an advance directive is a statement by a competent person indicating his wishes in the event of future incompetence.”
Bioethics Research Library, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University
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