Residents consider living wills

March 28, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Area residents differed Sunday in their opinions of what should happen to Florida woman Terri Schiavo, who on March 18 was removed from a feeding tube that has kept her alive for years.

However, they were nearly unanimous in saying that the controversy has prompted them to more seriously consider having a living will.

Joe Kennedy, 54, of Hagerstown, said he and his wife began discussing a living will within the year because "neither of us want to linger on in that state should something happen to us."


Another couple who recently discussed drafting a living will are Andrea and Jeremy Simms, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Andrea Simms, 24, said having one would give her peace of mind.

"It's peace of mind not to have to worry that he or my family are making the wrong decision if something like that should occur," she said.

Jeremy Simms said he would never want to go through what Schiavo has gone through, noting "it's cruel what they've done to her. Whatever they decide to do, they shouldn't be starving her to death."

Terri Schiavo sustained severe brain damage 15 years ago. Since, her husband, Michael Schiavo, and parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have been entangled in a legal battle over whether the woman should be kept alive.

Schiavo's husband has said Schiavo would not want to be kept alive through methods such as a feeding tube.

Court appeals made on behalf of the Schindlers, who fought the removal of the feeding tube, have failed in recent days.

Lana Spence, 39, a former Hagerstown resident living in Falling Waters, W.Va., said she already has a living will because she wanted to avoid the "ugliness" of a family battle in the wake of one that involved her grandmother.

"My grandmother was in a situation where my mother and her brothers and sisters were arguing whether to leave her on or take her off life support," Spence said.

Spence said it was hard to endure, knowing that her grandmother was in pain.

Dave Sucke, 32, of Greencastle, Pa., said he has thought about the option of getting a living will in recent days but does not know if he will.

"It's a question of immortality. Do you want to ask those questions or know those answers right now?" Sucke said. "It's a little bit of a fear of exposing yourself to those ideas."

Sucke said he does not want to be part of a fad spurred by increased media coverage of a controversy.

"I want it to be more of a conscious choice," he said.

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