The issues surrounding the recent deaths of two famous people are difficult. Perhaps even too difficult to discuss in a forum such as this. But I'm an idiot (as I'm sure some commenter will point out) so here I go...
First, I think it's very important to try to follow the wishes of the patient, insofar as they are known. A great deal of the Terri Schiavo case has revolved around exactly that, which is good. By the way, I think that Terri's wishes are stated quite simply in her blog.
Oh, don't get all huffy with me! My best friend on this earth has lain in a state quite similar to Terri Schiavo's (well, before her death), for almost 9 years. It is quite distressing to see him in this state and to consider what he might be experiencing, if anything. When I visit Tom in the nursing home he will sometimes turn toward noises and will sometimes look at his visitors. He moans and groans as well. But I have never been able to get Tom to perform any action that I can believe is willful and repeatable.
One of the last media shows before Terri Schiavo's death was with her parents claiming that they had begged Terri to just say, "I want to live," and that she replied with a loud protracted "I".
Bullshit! I've heard that yell from Tom many times. It could just as easily have been no, but without the ability to properly form the 'n' or 'o' sounds.
Mind you, I'm not saying that Terri wasn't trying to say that she wanted to live; I'm just saying that it is impossible to know what she was trying to say.
The whole situation sucks.