Monday, August 24, 2009

Should you Have a "Living Will" or a "Will to Live?"

There has been a lot of discussion lately about making "end of life decisions." Why has this become such a focus in health care discussions? Why are these provisions being written into bills that are supposedly designed to provide care?

As someone who is asked to draft these documents on a regular basis, I can tell you that I am very concerned. First of all, should a lawyer be the one to sit down with a person to decide which procedures are valid and which are not should that person be faced with a terminal illness? Second, should we be requiring people to make these decisions in advance, at all? Why is there is such a sudden rise in the government's interest that we all have these documents, commonly known as "advance directives", in place?

Many in the media will say that the Terri Schiavo situation would have been much simpler if she had only executed a "living will." Simpler for whom? Perhaps it would have been easier for the government and the judicial system in Florida if they had a piece of paper in hand that approved of what amounted to killing a woman who could not defend herself. And that is what almost every "living will" I have seen does; it gives permission to terminate a life.

A person who is terminally ill or very sick is at a low point in their life. The subtle pressure applied to a person in that state may be all that is needed for them to feel selfish about being an economic burden on their family or a strain on society. When their doctor approaches them to think about end of life decisions, they are in a very vulnerable position.

Studies have shown that people who have executed Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNRs) or other documents declining "heroic measures," are treated differently by medical personnel. They are not given the same level of care as others since they are viewed as someone who wants to die. Does this surprise anyone?

Shouldn't we be caring for people who are very sick instead of being so concerned about honoring their "wishes" about end of life? Perhaps if we were doing a better job of caring for the sick and the invalid, they would not feel like such a burden. It is a great grace to be able to care for the sick. Not only a grace, but a commission...a corporal act of mercy.

We have a great opportunity, Catholic Jedi, to show the world how a Christian cares for the sick, the weak, the dying. We have great role models in the saints. Stand up for the weakest among us.

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work. Mother Teresa

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Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!

Men of The Catholic Jedi Academy are also Men Of Saint Joseph!
Take a moment and visit the MOSJ website.