A legislative committee began hearings Tuesday on a living-will measure drafted in the wake of a Florida woman’s death last spring. Terry Schiavo had been in a persistent vegetative condition for a decade and a half before her husband won a battle to have her feeding tube removed. Republican Representative Dwayne Alons of Hull says that case highlighted the need for stricter laws governing living wills.Alons says he thinks there “was a question mark over the whole situation.” Michael Schiavo says in a conversation while they were watching TV, his wife told him she wouldn’t want to live like that. From that he concluded she definitely wouldn’t want to be kept alive with artificial feeding, but Alons says to him there’s kind of a grey area. “Was that her real intention, or was that just kind of a spur-of-the-moment statement?” Alons supports writing a law that would require you put your wishes in writing, or have witnesses back up any claim that you’ve said you’d want food and water withheld at the end of life. He says it’s possible to legislate that before any decision can be made to withhold food and water from a patient, “it has to be clearly stated by an individual, multiple witnesses or written down that it’s concretely there for that intention to be pursued.” A representative for the Iowa Medical Society urged legislators not to tamper with the state’s current law, saying it strikes the proper balance of allowing family to carry out a patient’s wishes. The Government Oversight Committee will hear more testimony next month.
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