One of the areas that my employer (Gundersen Lutheran Health System) prides itself in – and for which it has gained some national attention – is end of life planning. Gundersen Lutheran and the other health care system in town (Franciscan Skemp- Mayo Health System) have teamed together to make a concerted effort to provide guidance to patients in establishing advanced directives for medical care.
From what I can tell, they do a pretty good job with it, and without evident moral problems in their approach. But the devil is always in the details, especially in the interpretation of the directives at the time for which such direction is called.
If you find yourself faced with making such decisions or planning in advance for them in regard to yourself or a loved one, may I suggest that you take a look at the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s publication entitled A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions; An Explanation of Church Teaching on Advanced Directives, Euthanasia, and Physician Assisted Suicide.
You may view it at: National Catholic Bioethics Center.
Note that if you want a usable copy of the Advanced Medical Directive and Health Care Proxy document, you need to order it, as indicated at the beginning of the webpage.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center is a reliable resource for application of Catholic moral teaching to the real life situations families face on a daily basis.
One of the most interesting courses we took in diaconal formation was in this area. Bioethics touches the lives of each one of us, and the decisions that we need to make are not always crystal clear (in fact most often they are not), so each of us need access to resources that will faithfully guide us. The National Catholic Bioethics Center is one such resource.