Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type

Symposium Article


In the name of state interests, advance directive statutes almost universally include language requiring that a patient be in a particular physical state as a condition precedent to operation of a directive. This article urges state legislatures to recognize and rectify the conflict they have created by imposing such triggering conditions. First, it examines states’ efforts to facilitate autonomous end-of-life decision making through advance directive statutes. Then it proposes amending those statutes to align the law with medical ethics by eliminating specified physical triggering conditions burdening the exercise of patients’ rights to refuse life-sustaining treatment. Such amendment will improve end-of-life care and serve as an expression of a more caring medical and legal culture.