On July 13, 2009 Arizona governor Janet Brewer signed HB 2616 into law.  The law, hailed by the right to life movement as a great victory, intrudes on your right to privacy and injects the state into the midst of the dying decision of every Arizonan without a living will that expresses the intention to die with dignity.

The law requires every petition for the appointment of a guardian for an incapacitated person to contain a statement that the authority may include the authority to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment, including artificial food and fluid.

The law forbids any surrogate without written authority from the patient or a court order from consenting to or approving the permanent withdrawal of artificial administration of food and fluid.
The law provides an automatic stay of not less than 5 days to allow the entry of any order allowing food and fluid to be withheld or withdrawn to be appealed

The law creates a presumption that the absence of a living will means the patient in an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state did not intend to have food and fluids withheld or withdrawn and the patient intended that all procedures, including medically invasive procedures, be administered in an attempt to prolong the patient’s life.  The law provides stringent guidelines for rebutting the presumption.

Personally, I do not believe the state or any strangers should be involved in any medical decisions, including the most difficult and emotional decisions facing loved ones when the patient is dying.  I believe in the right to privacy, including the right to exercise life and death decisions for your spouse, parent, or child, when that decision is supported by overwhelming medical evidence.  I think your doctors are a better source of information than your government.

However, I respect your right to disagree, and now the state of Arizona gives you a clear choice:  If you do not want food and fluid to be artificially administered once you are in an irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state, you should be certain you have a living will that clearly announces your intentions and a valid health care power of attorney appointing the people you want to direct your medical care if you are unable to do so.

If you fail to create a living will, you and your loved ones may endure the pain and suffering of the full weight of the judicial system oppressing you at your most vulnerable moment.

Protection or meddling?  You decide.

Living Wills, health care powers of attorney, and HIPAA declarations are part of every estate plan prepared by our firm.  We will explain to you the effect of each document and assure that your choice will be plainly heard when needed.