One of the best things we can do in reference to protecting our own lives from the culture of death is to fill out the “Will to Live” document. These documents have been prepared by our friends at National Right to Life, in conjunction with legal experts, to conform to the laws in each of the 50 states. I would like to send one to you, and you can order it at http://www.priestsforlife.org/store/p-250-will-to-live.aspx . There is no charge. This document is meant to protect you. The danger in our day is not that we will have treatments we don’t want; the danger, instead, is that we will not have treatments that we do want. The “Will to Live” lets you indicate in advance that you want the care that is morally obligatory, that you do not want your life to be taken, and that if you cannot speak for yourself, a person you appoint and who shares your values and understands your desires will speak for you. This arrangement can not only spare your life, but can preserve your loved ones from the confusion and anguish that can happen if they don’t know your wishes. The case of Terri Schiavo, in which I was deeply involved, is an example, click here for an eyewitness account of that case. Because illness or tragedy can strike at any time, the “Will to Live” is for adults of all ages. The “Will to Live” is important, because we cannot predict the future, or know in advance what form of sickness or disease we may be afflicted with in the years ahead. We do not know what treatments we will need or what will be available. We do not ever want to pretend, therefore, that we know what kind of medical treatments we will want to use or avoid in the future. It makes no sense to decide on treatments before we even know the disease. Not every medical treatment is always obligatory. But to figure out which treatments are obligatory, morally speaking, and which are only optional, one must know the medical facts of the case. These facts are then examined in the light of the moral principles involved. But to try to make that decision in advance is to act without all the necessary information. People already have the right to make informed consent decisions telling their family and physicians how they want to be treated if and when they can no longer make decisions for themselves. Doctors are already free to withhold or withdraw useless procedures in terminal cases that provide no benefit to the patient. Some people fear that medical technology will be used to torture them in their final days. But it is more likely that the ‘medical heroics’ people fear are the very treatments that will make possible a more comfortable, less painful death. A safe route is to appoint a health care proxy who can speak for you in those cases where you may not be able to speak for yourself. This should be a person who knows your beliefs and values, and with whom you discuss these matters in detail. In case you cannot speak for yourself, your proxy can ask all the necessary questions of your doctors and clergy, and make an assessment when all the details of your condition and medical needs are actually known. That’s much safer than predicting the future. Appointing a health care proxy in a way that safeguards your right to life is easy. Order your “Will to Live” today at http://www.priestsforlife.org/store/p-250-will-to-live.aspx . Please be sure to indicate what state you want it for, especially if you are getting one for someone who lives in a different state than you. Please also let others know of this offer.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life writes:
My Day at Notre Dame-
There was an eerie stillness and silence across the Notre Dame campus as my colleagues, a few of the seniors and I walked across the campus very early on the morning of Commencement Day. It was the calm before the storm of what we knew was an historic day. I started with a national Fox News interview along with Fr. Richard McBrien. We were asked our views of the Commencement. My message was: Everyone can imagine people they would protest speaking at a commencement: an avowed racist, anti-Semite, or advocate of terrorism. So the failure to object to one who is unwilling to call for an end to abortion is the failure to see that abortion is as bad or worse than those other evils. We have to stop trivializing abortion. Moreover, the university gave the President an honorary law degree. Law exists to protect human rights; but this president has admitted that he doesn’t know when a child receives human rights. How can he defend human rights when he doesn’t know who has them? After speaking to various media, I greeted people on campus who were coming from all over the country to stand with the courageous students who boycotted their own commencement and invited me to lead them in an alternate ceremony. After I greeted and blessed the demonstrators who were at the campus entrance, and concelebrated a special Mass for Life, I led the Class of 2009 Vigil for Life. We meditated on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, on the victory of life over death, and on the fact that Jesus is King over every nation, over the courts, the Congress, and the White House. As I gave the students and their families reflections on these truths, the current occupant of the White House was calling the graduates to have “open minds, open hearts” and a spirit of dialogue. Now dialogue with our opponents on this issue is something we at Priests for Life specialize in. I maintain friendships with abortion advocates and practicing abortionists. The clarity of our own convictions never means we despise, demonize, or shut out other people. And yes, we are willing to collaborate with others in morally legitimate ways to reduce the numbers of abortions. But the President’s remarks had a glaring omission. While willing to dialogue and to promote adoption, he gave no indication of any willingness to protect the children in the womb. And that’s the crux of the issue. In his remarks, he referred to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation. Certainly, his call for open minds does not include openness to reconsider the segregation issue. There’s a right answer to it, period. So it is with the protection of the unborn. And as quiet again descended on campus at the end of the day, I reflected… Open minds, yes, but for the purpose of eventually firmly closing upon the truth! And isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of Catholic universities?