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Just like unborn children, these persons often cannot express their wishes. They need protection from those who may view their lives as no longer valuable.
Although the end of life can come at any age, issues related to end-of-life care are most often associated with elderly persons. These citizens have typically lived long, productive lives prior to the onset of dementia, heart disease or another debilitating condition, causing them to become partially or entirely dependent upon others.
Vulnerability is real
Such dependent persons are truly vulnerable. Their attending physician may decide that they have passed the point of a meaningful and productive life and that medical care should be minimal. Their care givers may view them as consuming limited resources that could be dedicated to other patients with better long-term prospects.
Their insurance companies—including Medicare and Medicaid—may determine that they are not showing enough progress to warrant reimbursement for additional tests or continuing therapy. Finally, their family members may attempt to hasten death because of selfish motives or the influence of euthanasia advocates.
Advance directive essential
The situation becomes more complicated when there is no advance directive, such as a Will to Live document. Such an end-of-life document provides the person’s wishes for treatment or withholding of treatment, and assigns a specific person to make sure those wishes are carried out.
Unfortunately, an advance directive is no longer a guarantee that a person’s end of life care wishes will be followed. Here in Minnesota, state law requires that living wills and advance directives be carefully followed, even if no person has been named to represent the patient. But most other states have no such law, and euthanasia in the form of denial of nutrition and hydration is becoming more and more commonplace.
MCCL strongly advocates the defense and protection of all innocent human life from conception to natural death. MCCL encourages all citizens to follow these principles when facing end-of-life issues:
1. Urge every person to write out a Will to Live or other medical care advance directive, and to discuss the specifics with a person who will represent them if they are unable to do so (often referred to as a durable power of attorney for health care).
2. Honor the dignity and sanctity of every life by adhering to each person’s wishes as expressed verbally or in an advance directive and by a person assigned to represent those wishes.
3. Make every reasonable effort to relieve pain and other undesirable physical symptoms.
4. Identify, address and discuss the person’s emotional, spiritual and personal suffering.
5. Provide appropriate and realistic information regarding prognosis and the expected course of the events preceding death.
6. Acknowledge grieving.
MCCL recognizes that death is a part of life. We do not seek to prolong the dying process, but we strongly oppose efforts to hasten death by those who base the right to life on subjective "quality of life" determinations, the cost of medical care, personal greed and/or other motives that cheapen life.
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