On living wills and prolongation of life

Denominational statements
The Terri Schiavo case serves as a reminder of how important advance written directions are to family members when an incapacitated loved one is at death’s door, say church leaders. And at least three denominations reminded members of the general tendency of ecumenical churches to oppose extraordinary medical means to prolong life.

The United Methodists, at their quadrennial general conference last year, approved a lengthy document on “faithful care” that advised against “romanticizing” dying and for accepting “relief of suffering as a goal for care of dying persons rather than focusing primarily on prolonging life.”

While opposing the deliberate taking of a patient’s life to relieve suffering, the Methodist statement said that the use of medical technologies “requires responsible judgment about when life-sustaining treatments truly support the goals of life and when they have reached their limits.”

 

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