Embracing life as the earthly vessel fades presents unique challenges. End of life medical decision-making strikes many as an uncomfortable topic. But loving life includes nurturing it and, when the inevitable approaches, assuring that the values and integrity that marked more robust seasons are not sacrificed to pressures, expediency, or despair. 

L.I.F.E. maintains a series of advance medical directives and proxy appointments that are morally sound, fully in accord with Catholic doctrine, and flexible enough to allow individualization. 

We have heard some voices object to the very concept of advance directives as opening a Pandora’s Box best left to compassionate decision making by loved ones. That may be adequate for some people in some circumstances. But the risks are plentiful. What if you are critically injured in an accident in Vermont, New Jersey or Washington where assisted suicide laws hover over end-of-life health care decisions? What if you don’t have next of kin who share your values? What if your spouse or children face the prospect of pressures that may lead them to mistaken judgments? What about your peace of mind that may accompany knowledge that you have spoken your heart and made clear to your medical providers what your decisions are, or would be, based on your underlying values and beliefs?  

L.I.F.E. offers a comprehensive life protective Advance Medical Directive that assures ordinary care will be provided if you become incapacitated, yet recognizes that futility has no place in continued life support in the final stage of terminal illness. It provides for a proxy decision maker who will have full access to your medical team and records and full authority to direct care in accordance with your wishes. It also offers the option to make an anatomical gift (organ donation). 

The typical living will is a generalized and inadequately nuanced binding legal document entered into without adequate reflection or understanding that may predetermine the withholding of life sustaining treatment when it is otherwise warranted. Would you want all antibiotics withheld if suffering from pneumonia just because you previously opted for a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in the event of a cardiac arrest? Can anyone confidently anticipate all the factors to be weighed in making such critical life decisions before the actual circumstances arise?

Visit L.I.F.E.’s easy to understand medical directive page. In addition to the comprehensive directive there is also a Short Form Advance Medical Directive, operative in the event you are unable to make informed decisions for yourself, as well as Short Form Appointment of a Health Care Representative who is authorized to make decisions on your behalf. 

To dive deep into the issues arising in end of life medical-moral decision making and the development of legal instruments to assert various levels of control and clarity about whocontrols such decisions, as well as the forces are work in society and law driving developments, don’t miss this extended study of the topic by LIFE’s Tom Davis.