For Educators

Politics of Death: The Right to Live, the Right to Die – Background


This lesson looks at end-of-life issues and examines the political and religious forces behind the decision to let a person live or die. Students will learn the key legal precedents behind such decisions. By studying the Terri Schiavo case and a similar case involving TV reporter Hugh Finn, students will understand the importance of a living will and the legal ramifications of this document. Through articles, video segments, written exercises, and group discussion, the lesson will put the end-of-life topic into perspective for the classroom.

Grade Level:

Grades 9-12

Time Allotment:

3 classes at 45 minutes per class

Subject Matter:

Religion, society, the legal system, state’s rights, medical ethics, the importance of a will, living will, political intervention, legal precedent

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand the legal precedent behind allowing a person to live vs. letting the person die
  • Identify important steps needed to avoid legal battles stemming from deciding a loved one’s fate
  • Understand why the issue is so divisive
  • Compare different cases where removing a feeding tube has created a political uproar
  • Debate the various viewpoints surrounding the matter


This lesson was prepared by: Michael Flaherty