My wife (who is a medical journalist) and I have this difficult discussion periodically. It is a discussion that brings us sometimes to tears. But, a discussion we believe is essential. It is about whether we desire a health care directive option that will allow assisted-suicide or self-directed death.
I am interested in what thoughts you readers have on this topic. You can email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, I would like to share the provision below as possible additional language one might consider adding to a health care directive or proxy. [I am required to disclaim here that I am not providing any specific legal advice that a reader may rely on for this possible provision. This is only a suggested draft provision. You should consult with your own advisers.] Here is the provision:
I hereby add the following additional information to supplement and further clarify the statement of my treatment preferences above under this health care directive:
I value my clarity of mind and my capacity to make decisions. To live well is to continue to possess my ability to recognize and communicate with my family and to converse, to read, to love, to laugh, to smile, to listen, to retain what I learn, and to reflect coherently, and thoughtfully understand information and ideas.
Palliative Care. I strongly request that my family first consider palliative care in the context of the above treatment options I selected. This is palliative care for the purpose of improving the quality of my life for me and for my family if and as we face problems associated with my life-threatening or mental illnesses, through the prevention and relief of my suffering by means of early identification, assessment and treatment of my pain and other related problems, including but not limited to, physical, psychosocial, mental and spiritual; provided, however, in the context of this palliative care I do not want my life prolonged if I undergo a marked lessening or absence of my cognitive powers nor my life prolonged if I am suffering with severe, chronic, distracting pain that significantly reduces my response-to-life-values I stated above.
Assisted-Suicide / Self-Directed Death. Furthermore, if as a result of the deterioration of my cognitive ability and mental responses due to, as examples but not as limitations, the above severe, chronic, distracting pain, or Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, coma, a persistent vegetative state, etc., I hereby — with this express acknowledgment of my full understanding and consent — request and urge my family, my medical care providers, and the courts (but only as to the courts if judicial oversight otherwise is required) to allow under this health care directive my assisted-suicide or my self-directed death, regardless of whether at this time or later my suicide or death is allowable under the law of my state of domicile. I also consent as may at any time be necessary to any change in my legal domicile to another state or country in which my preferences stated here can best be accomplished.
As to all provisions of this health care directive, the appointment of a guardian on my behalf shall at no time revoke or limit in any manner the powers of my health care agent under this directive or render void or ineffective my statement of preferences as outlined in this document.