Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Suzanne Rode


The attention that the Schiavo case has brought to end-of-life decisionmaking presents an opportunity to re-examine current laws addressing treatment for incompetent patients. In the United States, the right to self-determination is the primary value in making treatment decisions for incompetent patients. Alternatively the United Kingdom and Australia recognize a more objective "best interest" approach, and Japan places primary importance on the role of families in end-of-life decisionmaking. This note describes these different approaches to making treatment decisions for patients in persistent vegetative states and explores how the "best interest" and family-centered approaches can inform and improve healthcare law in the United States.