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Gmo Potatoes Essay

1944 words - 8 pages


The name Karen Ann Quinlan brings to mind the plight of many apparently terminally ill patients who are kept alive by lifesustaining mechanical procedures. On March 31, 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court spoke to the issue raised by Miss Quinlan's specific plight and said, based on Karen's right to privacy, that "The present life support systems may be withdr?~m * * * without any civil or criminal liability therefore on the part of any participants." Ironically, Miss Quinlan lives on; so does the question of the role of machines and medication in sustaining vital functions and the propriety of ...view middle of the document...

Some believe that society has an investment in human life, and the concept of its sacredness, that overrides the individual, if not legally, at least morally. II Determination of the legal aspects of the "right to die" issue has rested primarily with the courts. During the last 4 years, however, increasing legislative interest has been given to this topic. According to the Society for the Right to Die, 25 states have recently considered right to die type legislation. Only one state, California, has enacted such a measure, "The Natural Death Act." The current trend in legislative proposals stresses a specific personal decision on the part of an adult as to treatment or nontreatment in hopeless medical cases. The proposed bills permit an individual to avoid prolongation of his life beyond the point of meaningful (as defined) existence. One type of proposed measure found in some states sanctions painless inducement of death. Another type of measure being considered permits individuals to decide whether life support systems should be used, or continued to be used if they are already in use, if the individuals become terminally ill. Bills introduced in several states legalize approaches such as the "living will," a document which permits a person to indicate, in advance of terminal illness, the course of treatment he wishes to receive should he become terminally ill. An example of a living will, developed by the Euthanasia Education Council, says, in part: If the situation should arise in which there is no reasonable expectation of any recovery from physical or mental disability, I request that I be allowed to die and not be kept


alive by artificial means or heroic measures * * * I therefore ask that medication be mercifully administered to me to alleviate suffering even though this may hasten the moment of death. Perhaps the most interest to date has been generated by California's Assembly Bill No. 3060 (chapter 1439, Statutes of 1976) which permits adults to prepare written instructions directing their physicians to withhold or withdraw lifesustaining procedures in specified circumstances of terminal illness on the grounds that adult patients have the right to control decisions affecting their own medical care. The socalled heart of the measure is a "directive to physicians" which must be signed in the presence of two unrelated witnesses. This directive was adopted from various living wills (noted above) and modified to meet the demands of diverse California interest groups. The law, among other things: 1. Specifies procedures for executing and revoking directives and provides that they be effective for 5 years from the date of execution unless revoked sooner. Requires that a patient's terminal condition be certified by two physicians who have examined him. Requires that terminal patients confined to skilled nursing facilities who sign such directives must have as a witness a person designated by the California State Department of Aging...

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