Senator Arlen Specter has called for hearings on the Veterans Administration‘s use of a living will workbook called “Your Life, Your Choices: Planning for Future Medical Decisions” (download the guide here). Use off the guide was suspended under the Bush Administration for fear that it may suggest to veterans that they end their life early. Senator Specter states:
This is a slippery slope. When you look at the book it makes people feel like they’re a burden and they should do the decent thing and die. … When a veteran comes back from Iraq, they shouldn’t be given a book like this.
Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who is the Assistant Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the guide is “simply a tool.” The east-to-follow workbook answers questions about end-of-life issues and living wills; however, some feel it causes the reader to consider ending his/her life prematurely. Fox news writes:
One section titled, “What Makes Your Life Worth Living?,” offers a checklist of scenarios — the person filling out the form is asked to rate whether life would be worth living under each of them.
“I am a severe financial burden on my family,” says one of them. “My situation causes severe emotional burden for my family,” says another.
Whether this is political posturing by politicians (see Sara Palin’s “Death Panel” claim) or it’s a legitimate argument that people will be encouraged to die depends on the individual. For some, living wills of any sort are unacceptable; for others, information and the freedom to choose is most important. The politics of this aside, at least the subject is getting attention. Debate, so long as it’s honest and open, is healthy.