Dying is just that, an art! According to leading experts in the newly formed medical specialty of palliative care, there is definitely an art to dying, a way to die well. This art, when practiced while alive and well, enables a patient to seamlessly, effortlessly, and spiritually make the transition to the next part of his or her journey.
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End of Life
- To Live Each Day with Dignity
- Death With Dignity and the Gift of Palliative Care
- USCCB Physcian-Assisted Suicide Page
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End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues
If those who are dying are embraced by their family and their community, they will not seek death, but will live their last days well, and then accept death when it comes.
This page contains information on legal and policy matters.
For Catholic teaching on end-fo-life jump to
“Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again,” Dutch doctor Theo Boer warned recently in Britain, where Parliament is debating its first assisted suicide.
“Don’t do it, Britain! Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients,” he continued. Boer was an early advocate for assisted suicide, but is now strongly opposed.
"Dying is one of the most important moments in our lives. Like all important moments, it deserves thoughtful preparation.” (Fr. Lawrence Reilly, Ethicist and Theologian)
The end of life can be a time of spiritual and emotional growth. But with the onset of technological advances, patients and families may find themselves dealing with complicated treatment plans instead of addressing those spiritual questions.
Fortunately, new options on the care and comfort of people near the end of life have paralleled the emergence of technical advances.
In 2002 the Netherlands implemented a law giving individuals the right to end their own life with a doctor’s approval when they are suffering unbearably. Neighboring Belgium did the same.
To reassure the skeptical, advocates insisted that physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia would be rare.
But the reality since it became legal has been far different in the two countries. Most obvious is the reality that the number of people dying with medical assistance is rising rapidly and it only shows signs of continuing to increase.
California lawmakers are being asked to create a right to die in new legislation proposed this week. SB 128, by Senators Monning (D-Monterey) and Wolk (D-Napa), attempts to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in the Golden State.
Debate on physician-assisted suicide (PAS) has once again surfaced following the tragic suicide of Brittany Maynard. But, as is usually the case, media coverage tends to misstate Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues and some proponents deliberately twist our teachings to confuse the debate.
Proponents continue to focus on emotional elements and ignore the very significant and dangerous policy implications of PAS. But the discussion must be much deeper and the potential consequences for the elderly, disabled and disenfranchised members of society from PAS made much clearer.
Recently, the SFWire, an online news service, ran a brief story about an "empowerment luncheon designed to raise funds and awareness for patients' rights and end-of-life decision making," hosted by Compassion & Choices, at theSt. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Behind the slick presentation, however, lies a more ominous motive -- legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) in California
Sadly, on May 20, 2012, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill individuals—but the first in which it was by passage of legislation. In Oregon and Washington, assisted suicide was approved through public initiatives, and in Montana by judicial decree.
Vice President, Corporate Ethics, Daughters of Charity Health System
Since the 1980s, there have been a number of high profile cases involving persons receiving medically assisted nutrition and hydration (MANH), e.g., Claire Conroy, Paul Brophy, Nancy Cruzan, Hugh Finn, and Terri Schiavo. The provision of nutrition and hydration through the use of various medical interventions, sometimes referred to as “tube feeding,” is one of the most complex and controversial issues in contemporary bioethics.
On June 16 the Catholic bishops of the United States approved their first-ever policy statement focused on physician-assisted suicide, To Live Each Day with Dignity. This prompted a response from the group formerly known as the Hemlock Society, which now goes by the euphemism “Compassion & Choices” (C&C).