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Posted on April 19, 2019 at 4:30 AM

Elizabeth Villarreal has just published “Pregnancy and Living Wills: A Behavioral Economic Analysis” in the Yale Law Journal Forum. Here is the abstract:

“Living wills” are a commonly-used form of advance directive that allow people to state their preferences for medical treatment in the event that they become unable to make those wishes known in the future. But many people, including health-care professionals, are surprised to learn that women in the majority of states are not allowed to have binding living wills during parts of their pregnancies. 

These so-called “pregnancy exemptions” are likely unconstitutional. They also do a poor job of capturing pregnant women’s true end-of-life preferences. Behavioral economics, the study of how human psychology influences economic decision-making, can help legislators draft living will statutes that more accurately capture women’s preferences and, in the
process, provide women with greater individual autonomy.

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