Living will issue
Question from Mark N. on 06-25-2010:
Dear Judie, I am soon deploying to the Middle East in my Dept of Defense civilian job, so I recently reviewed my "medical directive and living will declaration," which my wife and I had done in 1996 (we were both Protestants at the time). There are two statements in the document that were disturbing to us. One of them states, "I request that I be allowed to dieand not be kept alive by artificial means, heroic measures, or other life-prolonging procedures. In this context, 'artificial means'includes the administration of artificial nutrition or hydration." The second statement says "I ask that medication be mercifully administered to alleviate suffering, EVEN THOUGH this may hasten the moment of my death."

Judie, as a Catholic, these "standard phrases" seem immoral to me. Wouldn't such phrasing give a doctor or hospice worker a carte blanche to "dispose" of a terminally ill person, or to kill them by starvation or lack of water?

Answer by Judie Brown on 06-27-2010:
Dear Mark

Yes, the LIVING WILL is problematic because of the very language that is now troubling you. What we have to remember is that nutrition and hydration, regardless of how they are given to a patient, kelp keep the patient comfortable and are not by any means to be defined as "treatment." The only time when they might be withdrawn is if providing them causes great pain and discomfort to the patient due to the fact that the body is shutting down, preparing for imminent death.

The second statement about pain medication is easily abused now that we live in an era where doctors and other health care providers are using palliative care to bring about coma and then death (terminal sedation).

You are correct to be concerned, and I would invite you to request the LOVING WILL from American Life League. The information contained includes provisions you can add to your own Living Will to protect your lives from pro-death forces.

Judie Brown


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