Making End-of-Life Decisions
Series Explores Debate over Use of Life-Sustaining Techniques
Terri Schiavo and her mother, Mary Schindler.
Photo: Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
The Schiavo Videos
In Joseph Shapiro's Dec. 15 report, he talks about videos of Terri Schiavo. Her parents claim they demonstrate that their daughter has consciousness. Experts say Schiavo's reactions -- including smiling and laughing -- are all involuntary and consistent with a vegetative state.
Schiavo smiling in her mother's presence.
According to the Schindlers, Schiavo shows annoyance during an examination.
A doctor asks Schiavo to open her eyes.
Schiavo is asked to track a balloon with her eyes.
Videos provided by the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
"There are too many of us who have been told we're going to be a vegetable or we're going to die soon. The fact is the doctors don't know a whole lot."
Diane Coleman, disabled rights activist
"The question that always comes up is: What is the purpose of the treatment and when is that treatment futile?"
Dr. Walter Koroshetz, medical director of Massachusetts General Hospital's neurological intensive care unit
December 2003 --
A Florida court considers whether state lawmakers were correct to give Gov. Jeb Bush the power to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, a 40-year-old woman at the center of a bitter right-to-die battle.
Another court has ruled that Schiavo, who never fully regained consciousness after a heart attack in 1990, is in a persistent vegetative state. Gov. Bush ordered that she be kept alive, after her husband won the right to remove her feeding tube.
In a series for Morning Edition, NPR explores the issues surrounding decisions to end life. Reporters talk with doctors, nurses and social workers, as well as those who have made the decision for a family member -- or for themselves.
French Attitudes Shifting on End-of-Life Decisions
Frank Browning reports from France on the fierce debate over determining who should make end-of-life decisions. A celebrated case of a young man with intense pain, who wanted to end his life, has touched off a firestorm in the mostly Catholic country. Dec. 30, 2003
More and more people are surviving major brain damage caused by traffic accidents and strokes. But determining how much mental function remains can be a challenge, so doctors are turning to new technologies. NPR's Jon Hamilton reports on how these technologies are helping to unravel one of the great philosophical tangles: the nature of consciousness itself. Dec. 23, 2003
One Family's Choice
Thousands of Americans are in a persistent vegetative state. Every day, families and medical caregivers agonize over whether to continue or withhold life-sustaining care. NPR's Richard Knox tells the story of Dorothy McManus, who recently had to make that decision for her husband. Dec. 19, 2003
'Not Dead Yet'
NPR's Joseph Shapiro looks at the reaction to the Schiavo case in the disability community. More and more, disability rights activists, including the founder of a group called "Not Dead Yet," feel that they are on the losing end of a battle to protect vulnerable people from euthanasia. Dec. 16, 2003
Related NPR Stories
Join an Online Discussion about Living Wills and End-of-Life Decisions
Legal Limbo for Living Wills
Schiavo Case Draws Support from Anti-Abortion Movement
Florida Case Puts Focus on End-of-Life Decisions
Government, Medicine and Bioethics
Commentary: The Other Side of 'Persistent Vegetative State'
Schiavo's Return to Life-Support Opens New Rifts
Slate's Explainer: 'Persistent Vegetative State'
Find Living Will and Medical Directive Forms at Partnership for Caring
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Information Page on Coma, Vegetative States
American Academy of Neurology's Guidelines on Assessing Persistent Vegetative State in Patients
American Academy of Neurology Web Site
The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
Not Dead Yet, an Advocacy Group for the Disabled
Death with Dignity National Center
Last Acts, an End-of-Life Advocacy Group