Readers React: Another legal battle over life support shows the need for advance directives

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To the editor: Over the years, I’ve written to the Los Angeles Times regarding the need for people to put together advance directives. Just as with Terri Schiavo in the early 2000s, the Juan Fernando Romero case poignantly underscores why advance directives are a necessary component of family planning, both for ourselves and our families. (“Judge rules that spouse has authority to remove partner’s life support if there’s no directive,” March 12)

The “gap” in the law recognized by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Thornton House looms large unless we clearly memorialize our wishes in the event of our incompetency.

The advance directive seeks to keep responsibility for decision making with the patient. In this way, control over issues such as whether the patient should be physically maintained, what is in the patient’s best interest, and who the decision maker is, remains with the patient as it is in other situations.

Once again, cases such as Schiavo’s and Romero’s alert us to how difficult and draining such decision making can be absent some kind of advance directive.


Richard Boudreau, Marina del Rey

The writer is an attorney and a bioethicist.

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