May we defend it [life] and promote it [life] from conception to its natural end.
Occasionally, situations arise when one who is sick cannot contribute to medical decisions. In these cases, a document directing medical personnel and family about continuing or withdrawing treatment is very important. Such advance directives allow you to guide treatment according to your wishes.
Once you have completed the forms, distribute paper copies and clearly communicate the specifics of your directives to those who need to know.
There is tension between euthanasia and the decision to forego overly aggressive medical treatment. One extreme is bringing about death directly. This is not permissible. The other extreme is use of all available means as extraordinary measures. Catholic moral teaching allows for the discontinuation of medical treatments that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2278).
Donating organs can lengthen or improve quality of life, and therefore is a genuine service to one’s neighbour, provided no one is forced to do it (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2296).
A clear understanding of your options and choices is essential. Certain legal forms, cards or permissions, most commonly a driver’s license sticker, need to be in order. Discuss your preferences with family and various professionals in light of ethical and moral, legal and medical options. The overall goal is to determine and record your choices in advance.