The recent brush with death for Jesse Ramirez of Chandler, and last years attempt by Congress to intervene on behalf of Terry Schiavo, grabbed the publics attention because such rare legal dramas involve the highest possible stakes life and the quality of that life.
While usually taking place in private, intense and emotional clashes between family members who disagree strongly on the best course for treatment occur frequently in hospital rooms and hospice centers across the country. Many loved ones fear that making the wrong choice will lead to the unusual nightmare that Ramirez faced before a court stepped in condemned to die by withholding food and water when it turns out he still has a good chance of survival and recovery.
Far more often, the inevitable outcome is simply delayed for weeks or months (or in Schiavos case for years), as families and loved ones argue with each other and wrestle with their own consciences about whether to hold out or to let go. In a variety of situations, the question isnt a clear let her live or die? Instead the issue can be a series of trade-offs involving different forms of treatment: Should a limb be amputated? How much risk is acceptable in emergency surgery? What should be done about unexpected complications?
The increasing use of ultrasound exams at crisis pregnancy centers brings criticism from clinics that provide abortion. They see its use as manipulating pregnant women. Eve Espey, obstetrician/gynecologist at University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, said CPCs are looking at legislation to force women to view an ultrasound before having an abortion.
"I think it's very much a coercive measure," said Espey, "because I think it gets back to your basic right to have the information you want to have."