Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



About Pennsylvania's Living Will Law

  • An individual of sound mind who is 18 years of age or older or who has graduated from high school or has married may execute at any time a declaration governing the initiation, continuation, withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. The declaration must be signed by the declarant, or by another on behalf of and at the direction of the declarant, and must be witnessed by two individuals each of whom is 18 years of age or older. A witness cannot be the person who signed the declaration on behalf of and at the direction of the declarant.


  • The law provides a statutory basis for individuals to declare their "will" regarding the use of artificial life support devices or extraordinary medical treatment-prior to the time when they become terminally ill and/or lapse into an irreversible coma or permanent unconsciousness.


  • Living will declarations are intended to ease the burden on aggrieved family members who-in the absence of such a "will"-could be faced with making difficult medical decisions for their loved ones.


  • As stated in our law, however, living wills are not intended to "condone, authorize or approve mercy killing, euthanasia or aided suicide." Additionally, a person who has a written living will may revoke that declaration at any time and in any manner upon communication to an attending physician, other health care provider or other witness to the revocation.


  • Further, the law restricts the living will provision for terminally ill pregnant women. Regardless of whether a pregnant woman has a signed living will, all life sustaining treatment is required until the birth of the child-unless such treatment would be physically harmful to the woman, would result in pain to the woman that could not be alleviated by medication or would not permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child. The law requires the state to pay any uninsured costs for such life support treatment for terminally ill pregnant women.


  • Surrogate Decision Maker Option-This provision, which is entirely optional, permits you to name a surrogate decision maker, someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you lose that ability.


  • Anatomical Gifts-Under Act 102 of 1994, a provision is added that provides for anatomical gifts in the living will form.

Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo