I had a really nice time speaking at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church last night as part of their Breath of Life Ministry’s Respect Life Month. What a wonderful group of people, and such a beautiful church!
I hope that this sort of event sparks conversations among family and friends about the importance of careful advance care planning. It is all too easy these days to sign documents (e.g., standard NYS living wills and certain part of the MOLST form) that will direct care that goes against Catholic Teaching.
My basic advice: We all need a Health Care Proxy and we do NOT need a standard NYS living will. I recommend using the document put out by the NY Conference of Bishops entitled Now and at the Hour of Our Death. This makes clear who should making health care decisions if you were to be unable to make them yourself (the Health Care Proxy portion) and that you wish for all medical care to be provided that is in accord with Catholic Teaching (the “Living Will” portion).
The MOLST form is ONLY POSSIBLY appropriate for those who would not benefit from attempts to restart their heart if it were to stop (CPR vs DNR) or who would be very unlikely to benefit from even a few days on a ventilator. I strongly recommend AGAINST competing the section on Artificial Nutrition and Hydration as this question is never an emergency and so can and should be assessed and decided upon by a person’s Health Care Proxy at the time.
For a Catholic POLST (which is what the rest of the country calls forms similar to NYS’s MOLST) see the thoughtful discussion from the National Catholic Bioethics Center here.
Thank you again to the wonderful people at St. Stanislaus’s parish for inviting me last night. May God continue to bless your exceptional ministry.
Mary, Health of the Sick, Pray for Us!
Tom Carroll – President