All this furor over Terri Schiavo should make everyone without some sort of written instructions for their next of kin rush for a pencil and paper. Here's my letter to whomever is making the decisions:
Enough about me. Now for the issue in general: I predict that right-to-die is going to be a non-issue after millions of baby-boomers start hitting those rest homes. Economics will dictate the morality. While I am sorry for Terri's husband (and, of course, sorry for her parents who seem to be in either more denial than a Bush twin or hypnotized by the radical religious right), I think he's wasting his own life pursuing this fight when time will take care of it as an issue and a very unusual set of circumstances are required for it to happen even now.
In order for Terri to be in the situation she is in, she had to be brain damaged beyond redemption at an early age after being normal for over 20 years, which is unusual in itself. She had to be frozen in time with a pleasant look on her face (getting eerier by the minute) that belied the underlying nothingness (if she looked like the average coma person, probably even her parents would have thrown in the towel). She had to have a husband and parents who disagreed with each other regarding her wishes. And she had to live in Florida.
Even so, figures online range from 16,000 to 36,000 people in the United States are in a persistent vegetative state with associated costs of around $126,000-180,000 per year to care for each of them. The difference between them and Terri is that there was no public disagreement about keeping them on life support, which means that they either didn't have relatives who were offended by this sort of "living" or that they had no relatives and such good medical insurance that the facilities that are caring for them could continue to rake it in as long as they could keep the poor bastards alive or some combination of the two.
Medicaid spends 27 percent of its patient care dollars on people during their last year of life. I can't find how much of this is care given to hopeless cases, but I imagine it is lots.
Anyway, I think this whole issue will take care of itself soon enough and primarily because of the "economics dictating morality" thing. I don't read enough about economics dictating morality, but I think it is happening all over. I think that "our" war in Iraq was economics dictating morality. I believe that the Senate's choice to drill for oil in ANWR is economics dictating morality. I think it happens all the time in every area of our lives and sometimes, as in right-to-die, it has a consequence with which I approve.