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Ismail Turay Jr., Reaction mixed in Schiavo case, Some local groups critical of treatment, 4/1/05 Dayton Daily News A6  

EXCERPT There's always going to be controversy when someone's life is at stake, said Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton. But families should be encouraged to make decisions privately and obey state law, which identifies a hierarchy as to who gets to make the decision about medical care if there is no living will. In most cases, the decision making begins with the spouse, she said. "This case and the politization means that other families that have disagreements are going to use the media as a way to avoid the law," Randall said. Although she would encourage people to get one, the existence of a living will is not a guard against disputes between families, Randall said. Relatives will challenge legal documents if they feel strongly about a situation. So it's possible that the fight over Schiavo's care would have occurred even if she had a living will, Randall said. Even so, "I think that if you have definite views about what you want, you should state that in writing, especially if your views are different from your family's."  

ARTICLE Ismail Turay Jr., Reaction mixed in Schiavo case, Some local groups critical of treatment, 4/1/05 Dayton Daily News A6 Stopping short of accusing Terri Schiavo's husband and doctors of murder, officials at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Dayton Right to Life said the brain-damaged Florida woman should not have been dehydrated and starved to death. "Withdrawing treatment because someone is actively dying is much different from withdrawing treatment to cause somebody to die, and that is what we see in the Terri Schiavo case," said Tracie Johnson, legislative chairwoman of the Dayton Right to Life. "The treatment was withdrawn to cause her death, and we believe that is wrong." Dan Andriacco, communications director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, agreed. "Much of the news coverage very unfortunately confused what happened to Terri Schiavo with an end-of-life situation," he said. "She was not dying until her food and water were taken away from her. She had no terminal illness. To compare her situation with that of somebody in the last days of life is poor ethics." Schiavo did not have a living will, but Michael Schiavo said his wife made it clear her wishes were to die if she were ever in a vegetative state, according to media reports. Her parents insisted their daughter be kept alive. Heather Tabor of Dayton said she favored removing Schiavo's feeding tube. There was not enough proof of quality of life, therefore, Michael Schiavo had the right to end his wife's suffering, said Tabor, an emergency medical technician. "I understand that the parents don't want to lose their daughter, but after seeing so many people in that state over the years ... at some point you just have to let go," she said. Lydia Fothergill of Dayton also said she favored removing the feeding tube because "it was what she wanted, and her family was not respectful of her wishes." There's always going to be controversy when someone's life is at stake, said Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton. But families should be encouraged to make decisions privately and obey state law, which identifies a hierarchy as to who gets to make the decision about medical care if there is no living will. In most cases, the decision making begins with the spouse, she said. "This case and the politization means that other families that have disagreements are going to use the media as a way to avoid the law," Randall said. Although she would encourage people to get one, the existence of a living will is not a guard against disputes between families, Randall said. Relatives will challenge legal documents if they feel strongly about a situation. So it's possible that the fight over Schiavo's care would have occurred even if she had a living will, Randall said. Even so, "I think that if you have definite views about what you want, you should state that in writing, especially if your views are different from your family's."

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law

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