This week’s meeting of the Iowa Hospice Organization featured an Iowa native who’s been involved for years with end-of-life issues. Early in his career as a lawyer, Bill Colby took a case for free, and discovered the family of Nancy Cruzan coping with a woman who’d never awake from her persistent vegetative state. That was in 1983, and Colby says today improving science and medicine have created many more cases that call for tough decisions. Colby says the purpose of all medical technology is to serve as a bridge to recovery, so we can live life. When it does not serve that function, he says we have to confront a question that’s new, whether we should stop that treatment. We give a gift to those we love, Colby says, if we stop for a minute and talk to them about our views and values, our wishes on end-of-life decisions. A lot of people did it last spring while they watched the case of Terri Schiavo and he says that’s the good that can come from such a tragedy. With 80-million Baby Boomers due to be over age 65 within the next few years and modern technology increasing its ability to keep people alive who would have died before, he says it’s time for everyone to have those talks. Colby says we all know 100-percent of us will die eventually, so we should make plans, tell people our wishes — and then go out and live life. His next book, titled “Unplugged — Reclaiming Our Right to Die,” is due out next spring.
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