CONSIDER THIS. You’re in an accident. Emergency personnel arrive and rush you to the hospital, all the while valiantly working to keep you alive. A distraught family member arrives at the emergency room an hour later and the doctor gives her the news—you are unconscious and your prognosis is uncertain. You may never wake up. You may never be able to breathe on your own. You will never walk or talk. You’re hooked up to a ventilator that breathes for you since you can’t breathe on your own.
A week later more of your loved ones have gathered. There’s been no change in your condition and the prognosis is still bad. The doctors want to insert a tube to provide you with nutrition and hydration. One of your family members says “No” because of a conversation about Terri Schiavo that the two of you had. Another one says “Yes” because of her spiritual beliefs. Who decides? How will you live out the next days, weeks, months or perhaps years of your life? The simple answer in America today is, “It depends.”
These questions are being asked every day in hospitals and nursing homes across this country. You might think this couldn’t happen to you. You’re young—but so was Terri Schiavo. You’re healthy—but so