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April 27, 2005

'Living Wills' Dangerous to Health and Soul, Catholics Warn

Topics: 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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Comments

I posted a copy of a living will that was recently drawn up for me here: http://powersthatblog.blogspot.com/2005/04/whats-in-living-will.html
Both the bias against staying alive and the language used (extremely vague for a legal document) make signing it unwise.

Posted by: powersthatblog at April 27, 2005 12:54 PM

powersthatblog,

That living will document is incredible. You hit it on the head about the vague language. Example:"...unable to make or communicate responsible decisions..." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to have serious reservations to that phrase, ie. responsible decisions according to who? Wow.

Also, there is no box to "X" if you want to *BE* "artificially fed". ALL of the choices given end in your starvation!

There is no hidden agenda there, the agenda is clearly spelled out in black and white.

Posted by: Tom Spence at April 27, 2005 1:14 PM

So good you noticed, Tom. That's why there can seldom be any more conspiracy THEORIES. Almost all of this has ceased to be theory;; has become in your face fact. The only thing I can conclude from that is that the real powers that be rest secure and fear no harm or resistence.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 27, 2005 1:25 PM

...until now, from people of good will.

Posted by: Tom Spence at April 27, 2005 1:33 PM

Everyone, please, please keep on praying. (This is regarding Charlotte.)I know this is off topic, but I need to get this to you all...

I **have had contact with two doctors today**.

The first, is one who is the director of the MC Association of Prolife Physicians (I spoke with him directly). I will call him 'Dr. James'. He is a family physician, however has worked with babies in hospital, before. He, or another physician aquaintance of his may be the one whom God is placing in our path to send to Britain to evaluate Charlotte. He is going to speak with two important doctors who he knows personally, when he is able - and we need to pray for him about this! One is Dr. Patrick, who is a retired medical professor and missionary, and is currently the president of a college in Canada. Dr. Patrick is affiliated with the CMDA (Christian Medical & Dental Associations). Dr. Patrick is actually traveling right now - today, April 26th through May 9th, so Dr. James really needs prayer that God will open the way for him to directly contact Dr. Patrick, soon, even during his travels....
Dr. James is also going to contact Dr. C. Everett Koop, MD the former Surgeon General of the US, who is a pediatric surgeon and whom Dr. Johnston personally knows.
Here is a bit about Dr. Koop:
"Surgeon General Koop continued to champion children with disabilities, an issue with which he had long been involved as a pediatric surgeon. He organized a workshop on respirator-dependent children in December 1982, which explored ways of caring for these children in their own homes rather than in hospitals, and making Medicaid funds available to pay for long-term home care. One of the last conferences he convened was the "Surgeon General's Conference on Growing Up and Getting Medical Care: Youth with Special Health Care Needs," held in March 1989. In numerous speeches Koop urged policymakers, physicians, health care administrators, educators, and the public to recognize the dignity, rights, needs, and capabilities of children with life-threatening birth defects and other impairments. A growing number of such children were saved by advances in medicine, but were left with disabilities. Throughout his eight years as Surgeon General, Koop was the most outspoken and persistent government advocate for increasing access to medical and health care, educational opportunities, and employment for these children." (from http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/QQ/Views/Exhibit/narrative/babydoe.html )

PLEASE PRAY FOR DR. JAMES AS HE MAKES HIS CALLS TODAY AND IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, THAT HE WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE CONTACT AND RECEIVE RESPONSES!
Here is a verse to encourage prayer: "Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. **The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much**." (James 5:16)

TO 'DOCTOR JAMES' - Thank you for taking my call and for making calls on behalf of Charlotte's life, if you are reading this!

The second doctor I will post about in the next post.

Posted by: juleni at April 27, 2005 3:18 PM

Second :

Dr. Paul Byrne called me! Thank you for your call, Dr. Byrne!

THANK YOU EARL FOR GIVING ASKING HIM TO CALL ME!

Dr. Byrne will also visit Charlotte's website today, and I am forwarding emails to him from Hannah, regarding Charlotte.

KEEP ON PRAYING EVERYONE, YOUR PRAYERS ARE WORKING. GOD IS RESPONDING TO THEM!

Posted by: juleni at April 27, 2005 3:19 PM

'Dr. James' and Dr. Byrne said some good things, to us. I really want to post some of their good words, here, but will have to later, because time is of such an expediency right now!

Posted by: juleni at April 27, 2005 3:20 PM

Tom, God willing and we fight the good fight, we shall perhaps see that they overestimated themselves.

Juleni, that is wonderful. I will close and begin those fervent prayers. Praise God exceedingly.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 27, 2005 3:24 PM

Thirdly, a private contact is getting ahold of two prolife pediatric cardiologists at the University of Michigan, Dr. Beekman and Dr. Ludamerski, but this contact is waiting on some more very specific information from Hannah, that these specialists will need to determine if they should be the ones to go to England.

PLEASE PRAY THAT HANNAH WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE INFORMATION TO THIS CONTACT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, AND THAT THE INFORMATION WILL BE CLEAR TO THE DOCTORS WHEN THEY RECEIVE IT, AND THAT THIS CONTACT WILL HAVE NO DIFFICULTY GETTING THIS INFORMATION TO THE DOCTORS.

Thank you. And please know that none of this could be possible without your prayers.

Posted by: juleni at April 27, 2005 3:38 PM

Thank you for your prayers, Mary!

Posted by: juleni at April 27, 2005 3:39 PM

This could be good news....I do not know when this happened (and if they accepted)but I got this email tonight.

Dear Jody

I know that you have made contact with our Life Headquarters staff and with Zoƫ's, I will liaise with both and e-mail you as soon as possible.

Just so that you are aware, Zoe's offered a place for Charlotte.

Yours sincerely

Virginia Griffin
National Fertility Co-ordinator

Posted by: alwayschooselife at April 27, 2005 11:33 PM

Wonderful, Always; will pray about this, too. I wonder if the Wyatts would allow Charlotte to come here first then follow later.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 28, 2005 2:20 AM

I have been away for a couple days, but it is awesome to see how God is using you guys to find help for Charlotte - Koop, Byrne, "James" others.

I'll be praying...

Posted by: kay at April 28, 2005 8:27 AM

Oh, Mary - just wanted to pop in quickly and say that Zoe's Place is in Britain, not the US.

Hope it is good...

Posted by: juleni at April 28, 2005 11:32 AM

Please keep us posted about what is happening. From what I have been reading Charlotte needs to be removed from the current hospital so that she has a chance to continue living.

The courts should not be allowed to make that kind of ruling. It is making a very bad determination.

Posted by: Maggie4life at April 30, 2005 2:16 AM