An Advance directive is a living will, which allows one to document their wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life. Even though it’s optional, but all health care facilities are required by law to ask patients if they have one, and offer them the appropriate information, and documents to sign if they want it. There are two basic kinds of advance directives, living wills, and durable powers of attorney for health care. Advance directives are legally valid throughout the United States, but the laws governing advance directives vary from state, to state. Anyone can have advance directives, no lawyer is required, and it becomes valid as soon as you sign it in front of the required witnesses. Anyone can be a witness. Reasons for advance directives Advance directive is designed to empower patients, and to allow them to have a voice in their care. It provides a way for patients to communicate their wishes to family, friends and health care professionals, when they are no longer able to do so. With advance care directives, you can express how much, or how little care you want done for you when you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself. You can also appoint someone to make decisions about your medical treatments when you are unable to make these decisions yourself; this is called power of attorney. Another reason for Advance directives is to protect your right to die with dignity. It allows your voice to be heard when you can no longer speak. It relieves your family the burden of figuring out what you want, and deciding for you.
The Issues Affecting Advance directives
The issues facing advance care directives are both legal and ethical. In most states, the law requires you to be eighteen or older in order to be able to make informed decision on your own. Therefore if you are under eighteen year of age, your parents have to make the decision for you. The court of law can also deem one as incompetent to make their own informed decision; this may be due to injury or disability. Then, the court will appoint a proxy, or a guardian who will make the health care decision for that person. In the event of sickness, car accidents, and emergencies, if the person has no living will, and there is no durable power of attorney for health care; then the law in most states permits health care practitioners to turn to next of kin as default surrogate decision-makers. The selection of next of kin starts from the person's spouse, or (domestic partner as allowed by law in that state) then an adult child, a parent, a sibling, and then possibly other relatives, and in some states friends can be included. Recently, I heard a story from National Public Radio (NPR) in a program called "All Things Considered". The story was about a memorandum issued by President Obama in April 15th 2010 to "allow designated non-family members to visit patients and participate in health care decisions" (Lee. 2010). The memorandum was to enable gay and lesbian couples a visitation right. This causes a lot of ethical debates about whether the gay should have this right. Also, not long ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, instructed Catholic hospitals to ignore advance directives if they meant someone would die because of them. Their reason is that, Catholic health facilities have "an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who could not take food orally" (Meyer, 2010).
Though I believe that advances directives are good and have so many benefits, but at the same time,...