April 27, 2005
'Living Wills' Dangerous to Health and Soul, Catholics WarnTopics: News
Bernadine O'Dea was a good Catholic. She knew at the end of her life she didn't want to hang on, plugged into tubes and machines that weren't going to do any good.
So, when the senior living center gave her a living will to fill out, she checked all the boxes that indicated they were extraordinary care: antibiotics, cardiac resuscitation, mechanical respiration, feeding tubes, intravenous fluids, chemotherapy and kidney dialysis.
Fortunately, the 85-year-old Michigan woman trusted her son and handed it to him to check, Mike O'Dea recalled. He's still appalled by the possibility that his mother could have inadvertently signed her life away.
Mrs. O'Dea's living will didn't just authorize the withdrawal of those treatments if she was dying; it also would have applied if she was permanently unconscious or, as the document stated, conscious but had "irreversible brain damage and will never regain the ability to make decisions and express my wishes."
Five years later Mrs. O'Dea died, with her son and his family by her side. But before that, she needed antibiotics and intravenous hydration and recovered to live another three years -- very fully, O'Dea said.
Those treatments would have been denied her under the terms of the form she originally filled out, noted O'Dea, founder and executive director of the Christus Medicus Foundation in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., an organization that promotes authentic Catholic healthcare.
(...) "What a lot of people call 'a living will' is the document that is like a blank check to an unknown physician," said Rita Marker, an attorney and executive director of the International Task Force.
(...) With an increasing trend in hospitals and society to judge "futile care" based on quality of life, the "living will" becomes dangerous, National Right to Life ethicist Burke Balch said.
(...)"Denial of food and fluids to people who cannot speak for themselves has been going on for 15 years in this country," Balch writes on the NRLC website. "It is routine practice in hospitals and nursing homes across the country. And for over a decade, the law on this, established by numerous court decisions and statutes, has been largely settled."
(...) Living in a culture where the law favors euthanasia, Americans need protection to ensure that it won't be practiced on them.
Read More at The National Catholic Register ...
Hat tip - email from Pamela Hennessy
Posted by richard at April 27, 2005 10:33 AM
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