Staying Alive?

The Terri Schiavo case is a bit far afield for this blog but it's worth reminding people that in North Carolina it is possible to record both a living will and a health care power of attorney. There are many attorneys in the area who do this work, and who can make sure that the language of each accords with North Carolina law.

I found a good overview of these items including links to pdf files for the necessary forms at the New Hanover Health Network.



Dan, thank you so much for making those resources easily available. If one positive thing can come out of this horrible situation, it should be that everyone takes a moment to do a simple will and health care power of attorney. Anyone who is of legal age needs both, even if you don't own anything or if you think you're in good health. When my uncle recently became dependent upon life support, it was such a relief to my cousins not to have to guess at what he wanted done. HE made the decision by drafting that living will. They didn't have to decide, just carry out his wishes.

My husband and I have both health powers of attorney AND living wills in place, but we took 5 minutes at dinner this evening to make certain both our teenaged boys knew that:
A) such documents existed
B) we would want them to "pull the plug"/not do the feeding tube thing for more than 90 days (if one is going to COME out of a coma one usually does so within 90 days.)
C) We would NOT want to "live" like Ms. Schiavo.

Never hurts to make certain these things are clear!

It is especially important for same-sex partners to draft living wills and health care powers of attorney. Since we cannot legally marry, we are not considered "spouse" or "next of kin" in North Carolina and most other states. Without these legal documents, same-sex partners have NO RIGHTS to make decisions for each other if one is severely ill or injured. There have been, unfortunately, many cases similar to Terry Schiavo's in the GLBT community--in which a life partner knows what the ill or injured person wants, but is totally blocked by "blood kin" (who may not even have had a relationship with their child/parent/sister/brother for years) from having any input on what happens to their partner.

When I was in Law School, our group Lambda Law Students Association, began a POA project to educate people about the importance of HPOA's and Living Wills. We primarily focused on people in same-sex relationships, but we offered services to everyone. In particular, I recall a number of single people, gay and straight, executing these documents to give HPOA to someone they trust -- a close friend or other family member. I think the program is still functioning. The law students are closely supervised by practicing attorneys. You can get more information and assistance, pro bono, by calling the law school and asking for contact information for Lambda Law Students.

I highly recommend consulting with either a program like this one, or a practicing attorney before trying to execute these documents own your own.

this case has definately forced me to think about what my wishes are. Here is another link to get the necessary forms...

Big thanks to Mark on all the work the Lambda Law Students Association does. These workshops are a fantastic service to the LBGT community especially & everyone, really. It is wonderful to have a resource to use, and also to point people to for this sort of thing - makes me proud of our community in the triangle. One thing my dad did a long time ago that I think is a good idea is he a) told us his wishes concerning no feeding tube, DNR orders, etc., and b) granted health POA to a friend of his who is an MD and a good guy, so that the rest of us would not have to feel guilty about acting on his wishes

The Right Die Without CNN
(Cross-posted from

Maybe the right wing has finally sailed off the edge.

You hear all the time that you really can't understand this or that until you've been through it, yet a stunning number of right wing self-proclamed "Christians" have declared that they know better than Michael Schiavo what should happen to his wife, Terri.

Remember ... these are the same people who want to protect the sanctity of marriage from gay people.

First, the case is driven heavily by (big shock) money. Read more here.

If you've never had the experience of having to execute the wishes of a loved one and withdraw treatment, food and water, then I envy you. It is an agonizing task even when the path is absolutely clear.

In our case, it was my father-in-law, who had made his views very, very clear. As with most of us, he said (and conveyed to us in legal documents) that if he were stricken with, for example, a massive stroke or strokes and had no hope of recovery or regaining awareness that he was alive, that we should discontinue treatment (he was diabetic) and all life-sustaining support. That means giving the order for no more food or water.

That's what happened (two strokes, one on each side of his brain) and that's what we did -- executed his wishes. What we might have wanted was irrelevant. My husband made a solemn oath to his father. He kept his word. It took a week for him to die. It felt like a month.

But we did all this as ordinary people do -- without CNN and FOX news running his deformed image as art for B-roll video. We did it with some discussion and discomfort among family members, but we explained how the process works, we explained that these were his wishes and not open for negotiation. Above all else, we explained that he was not only not suffering, he was not aware that he was alive. We had no right to hold his body, if not to say his very soul, hostage for our own comfort.

So, to the freaks who claim to be attempting to "save" Terri Schiavo ... shame on you. If you do this on a religious basis, you should account for yourselves to a God whom you claim to trust, but whose will you would stubbornly thwart through machines and artificial existance.

This case is one of flexing political might and everyone knows it. for a matinee, Bush flies back to Washington to sign emergency legislation. Don't they have a fax machine in Crawford? Is it not a law if it's signed out of the district?

This follows the main event -- Congress passing a piece of legislation under orders from Randall Terry (head of "Operation Rescue") that those who did not vote for the bill would pay dearly at election time. He and his supporters didn't work so hard for the last 15 years to control both houses to watch it all go down the drain now, he said.

That's pretty overt.

Thankfully, the courts have been remarkably swift, responsive and consistent. They have backed this man whose commitment is remarkable. Let's hope a peaceful end is not far away for this poor woman and that her blood relatives can figure out how to let this go.

A friend of mine at Duke just sent me this announcement.

The Terri Schiavo Case: Continuing the Conversation
A panel discussion, April 5, 2005

In a matter of days this spring, the case of Terri Schiavo became the epicenter of a nationwide battle over who has the power to make life-and-death decisions for patients unable to speak for themselves.

The recent decision to remove the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube led to a dizzying array of court challenges, legislative maneuvers and impassioned statements by national figures including President Bush and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Please join the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life ( on April 5 for a 90-minute panel discussion to explore some of the complex legal, ethical, medical, and policy implications of the Schiavo case. Speakers at “The Terri Schiavo Case: Continuing the Conversation,” will include Duke faculty members representing theology, law, ethics, medicine and other disciplines.

The event, which will include a question-and-answer period, is free and open to the public. Discussion begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Bryan Research Building Auditorium (Room 103). The Bryan Research Building is in front of the Searle Center on Research Drive.

For more information, please contact Jon Goldstein, 660-3416 or


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.