“ Ordinary means” are all medicines, treatments, procedures, and technology that offer a reasonable hope of benefit and which can be obtained without excessive pain, expense or burden.
“ Extraordinary means” refers to all medicines, treatments, procedures and technology that do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or cannot be obtained or used without excessive pain, expense or burden.
Catholics have a moral obligation to use ordinary means to preserve their lives. They also may choose to use extraordinary means, but they have no obligation to do so.
“ But normally one is held to use only ordinary means…according to the circumstances of persons, places, times, and culture – that is to say, means that do not involve any grave burden for oneself or another.” (Pope Pius XII)
A treatment that is medically ordinary can be morally extraordinary. This is a careful decision based on respect for the God given dignity of the person and on the moral principles enunciated by the Catholic Church.
Each of us decides the benefits and burdens of treatment according to our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health at the time of the decision. A particular treatment for one person may be a benefit while the same treatment for another person may be a burden.
Difference between withholding treatment and assisted suicide
Assisted suicide is participating in the taking of the life of another.
--If the intent is to cause the person to die, this is assisted suicide and not morally permissible.
--But if the intention is to allow nature to take its course, that is, to allow the person to die of his/her underlying disease process without unnecessarily prolonging the inevitable process of dying, then it is allowable to withhold or withdraw a treatment or procedure.
A durable power of attorney for health care is a written document that allows you to designate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. The person you choose is usually called your “agent.”
Review booklet, A Guide to Making Good Decisions for the End of Life: Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
How do I decide to sign a living will?
Who do I appoint as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care?
What do I include on the forms?
Who do I tell about the forms?
To whom do I give the forms?
Principles can guide us when we talk about end of life
The topic touches all of us
We all have stories that influence us
Emotions and experiences influence our perspective
But do stories and individual cases make good law?
I-1000 places vulnerable people, such as the disabled, the poor and elderly, at risk for abuse.
I-1000 does not require notification of spouses or family members in cases where someone requests suicide. Loved ones could be assisted in their suicide and you might never know it until after their death.
I-1000 actually makes it easy for a depressed loved one to commit suicide. The initiative does not require a psychological evaluation of those requesting assisted suicide, even though depression is a normal reaction to receiving a terminal diagnosis.