Advance Directives or Living Wills
St Pauls, Morpeth Terrace, London SW1P 1EP, England
Maynooth Co. Kildare, Ireland
ISBN 085439 539 3
The Guild of Catholic Doctors 1998
- Can Advance Directives he ethically acceptable?
- The status of autonomy
- When competence is lost
- Can treatment ethically be refused?
- Consent or refusal in the law
- Refusal of assisted feeding
- Should advance declarations he legally binding?
- The present position: Some types of advance statement
- The Patient and Advance Directives
- The Catholic Hospital or Nursing Home Advance Directives
- The Catholic Doctor and Advance Directives
- The Catholic Nurse and Advance Directives
- Advice concerning completion of our Christian Advance Declaration
- A Christian Advance Declaration for the management of serious illness
The Guild of Catholic Doctors has, for some time, been concerned about the implications of so-called 'advance directives', particularly as they were originally the product of the 'euthanasia movement'. The possibility of Christian or Catholic advance directives arises as a result of the medico-legal situation in the United States which has led to their almost universal use in hospitals over there. We have, in fact, included such a document in this booklet, though it is our hope that it should never he necessary in the British scene.
This booklet has been the result of the work of a number of members of the Guild of Catholic Doctors and of the Catholic Union, co-operating in the joint Ethico-Medical Committee of which I was then Chairman, on the initiative of the then Master of the Guild, Dr A. P Cole. I am grateful to all of them, and to Bishop Budd for so kindly providing the foreword. In particular I thank Luke Gormally, Director of the Linacre Centre, who has contributed his advice, guidance, and help throughout the drafting process.
Dr lan McD Jessiman KSG, MA, MB BChir, MRCP, DCH.
I welcome this document from the Guild of Catholic Doctors as a lucid and helpful guide for people who may be thinking of drawing up "advance directives" for themselves, their family, medical practitioners and carers, should they become incompetent through illness or old age.
It is firmly rooted in Catholic principles promoting the dignity of the human person. In a word, it is pro-life. It is also solidly realistic again in fidelity to our Catholic tradition that there is no obligation to keep someone alive for as long as technically possible. For those of us who believe in eternal life, the dying process is not always the enemy to he vanquished. It is that important moment when "life is changed, not ended" (Roman Missal Preface of Christian Death.)
The strength of this document is that it sees medical care as a partnership between patient, family, and medical and care personnel seeking to act in the best interest of the patient. It rightly refuses to accept the premise that a persons life is of no value when certain medical conditions prevail. In a Catholic ethic the dignity of the human person cannot he undermined by illness or infirmity. Medical personnel and carers, and indeed the patient him or herself always remain stewards of life, never proprietors. I recommend this document to all medical personnel, carers and anyone who is contemplating giving advance instructions about medical treatment and care.
Rt Rev Christopher Budd, Bishop of Plymouth
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