The ethics of the end of life

One of the Vatican’s more definitive statements on the end of life is a 1951 document by Pope Pius XII, declaring that the Catholic Church holds that a person is obliged to always preserve life, but that obligation was not “absolute.” Pius wrote that a person should accept “ordinary means” to save his or her life, but not “extraordinary means.”

More to the point, bioethicists will also tell you that this case is about the right to refuse medical treatment — chemotherapy, blood transfusions, or, yes, food and water. Can we make that decision, and if not, who can? Decades of hard cases have established our right to say no, and state legislation has determined that our spouses, adult children, parents — in that order — can act for us. In Florida, the courts determined that Michael Schiavo knew what his wife wanted and spoke for her.

Megadox Advance Health Care Directives. Download the form for $10, fill it out. Then there’s no confusion at all what your wishes are and no court in the world can block it.

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