A living will is a morally permissible tool for indicating the wishes of a person concerning medical treatment when that person is unable to speak for himself. However, a much more efficient tool is the health care proxy. The defect of a living will is that the person fills it out when he is of sound mind and body, in the abstract from the concrete situation in which he would be when in need of medical treatment, and when he might have different thoughts and preferences. In contrast, with a health care proxy, a person entrusts decisions about medical treatment to a person he trusts in the concrete situation. In either case (living will or health care proxy), a person is obliged to adhere to the moral distinction between obligatory and optional medical treatment, a distinction that is able to made only in the concrete circumstances of the person in need of medical treatment.
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