The Council of Europe has passed a resolution promoting advanced directives in the EU. Fine and dandy—depending on details, of course. But the media has been abuzz about one paragraph. From “Protecting Human Rights and Dignity by Taking Into Account Previously Expressed Wishes of Patients:”
This resolution is not intended to deal with the issues of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited. This resolution thus limits itself to the question of advance directives, living wills and continuing powers of attorney.
Some are claiming this as a victory against voluntary euthanasia. Perhaps. But, I like this part the most because it explicitly instructs that a dependent patient’s care is not to be determined by general community values—often anti elderly and disabled—and how, in cases of doubt, advance directives are to be interpreted:
7.8. surrogate decisions that rely on general value judgements present in society should not be admissible and, in case of doubt, the decision must always be pro-life and the prolongation of life.
Right on! If in doubt, life should be the choice. Good push back against a culture that increasingly views withdrawal of treatment leading to death as the default decision when patients are very ill, disabled, or debilitated.