There are many legal documents online similar to the one I created below. However, even Catholic modifications to the average durable power of attorney documents miss the two main aspects of euthanasia:
1) Artificial Nutrition and Hydration. Even the Vatican website (published several years before Pope Benedict XVI’s semi-resignation) admits that artificial nutrition and hydration is always part of ordinary care in end-of-life decisions, provided the body can assimilate food and hydration (be it oral or artificial.) As most of you know, the Catholic Church always requires ordinary care (food and water) but not always extraordinary care (eg a ventilation machine) in order to preserve life. For example, intubation and ventilation are acceptable for the Catholic, but not always required. (In other words, there’s nothing against a pro-life culture to “pull the plug” after a valiant attempt at saving a life, provided eugenics be not a motivator to the clinician or family.)
Nowadays, however, most hospice care and palliative care businesses are euthanasia-based.
2) Overdosing on narcotics. Pope Pius XII explained here that narcotics can be permitted for the Catholic patient, but added that refraining from them can be heroic. When helping others die in God’s grace, it’s important to never impede the intellect, as spiritual warfare on the deathbed is often as pronounced as the physical battle. Again, the Catholic Church permits narcotics, just never to the point that it causes respiratory arrest. This might sound obvious, but numerous “Catholic” hospitals and hospice agencies euthanize countless patients via narcotic overdoses every month in the United States and Europe, and probably in Asia and even Africa.
Regarding so-called “brain-death” and organ donation, see this blog post I wrote that a couple years ago that went viral. Notice the link at the top of my blog where even USA Today admits they’re cutting hearts out of live people.
For all these reasons, I think it’s better to have durable power of attorney for health care proxy given to one person instead of advanced directives. Although a euthanasia-inclined physician could still overdose or starve-to-death a Christian patient against the wishes of a Christian family, the family has a better chance at winning the argument for life if health-care proxy is given to only one person. Why? Because the parameters of advanced directives allow for argument, whereas durable power of attorney given to one family member who understands both bioethics and the craftiness of the modern medical system is simply the best Catholic option.
In regards to the common-form online seen below (even on so-called “Catholic” websites) I myself correct the bioethical errors in bold. You can find my version below on a Word document here, too, but without the bold corrections below.
Durable Power of Attorney in Health Care:
I, (name) , of ,
hereby make, constitute and appoint hereinafter “Agent”),
of , as my true and lawful attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions for me.
I also appoint , as “my alternate Agent”, without authority to exercise any of the powers set forth below, except that if my Agent shall be unable or unwilling to serve or to continue to serve as such Agent, then my alternate Agent shall be fully authorized to serve hereunder and shall have all of the powers granted originally to my Agent. My alternate Agent may execute and attach hereto an affidavit to the effect that my Agent is unwilling or unable to serve or to continue to serve. Such affidavit shall be conclusive evidence, insofar as third parties are concerned, of the facts set forth.
My Agent is authorized to exercise authority in matters involving my health and medical care. In exercising the authority granted herein, my Agent is instructed to try to discuss with me the specifics of any proposed decision regarding my medical care and treatment, if I am able to communicate in any manner.
Specifically, in the event that I should be in a terminal condition, a coma or a vegetative state that my doctors feel is likely to be incurable or irreversible, I would want to receive medically appropriate comfort care but would not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation. I desire always to receive oral or even artificially administered food and fluids, provided my body can assimilate them.
In such circumstances, I would prefer not to be transported to a hospital if avoidable, would hope to be permitted to die in my home. In any event, I would request the administration of sufficient medication to alleviate pain or the performance of other medical procedures necessary to provide me with comfort care, with great vigilance that narcotics never be used to induce any state of respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest or even an unconscious-state.
My Agent is authorized to give or withhold consent to medical treatment for me based upon any treatment choices that I have expressed while competent, whether under this instrument or otherwise.
If my Agent cannot determine the treatment choice I would make under the circumstances, then my alternative Agent should make such choice for me based upon what my Agent believes to be in my best interest. Accordingly, my Agent and alternative Agent are authorized as follows:
1. To give or withhold consent for surgery, medication or other treatment, approve or withhold approval for hospitalization or other placement, and consult with doctors and other persons to determine the best and most appropriate course of treatment or the most reasonable and comfortable-limitations on treatment.
2. To authorize the removal or withholding of medical treatment, including artificially or technologically supplied respiration, never withholding nutrition or hydration. It is my intention to provide a mechanism for such withholding or removal of life-sustaining treatment or procedures if after consultation with my treating physician my Agents, in his or her sole discretion, determines that I am unlikely to return to a cognitive sapient state and the treatment is unlikely to effect a cure.
3. To review my medical records, reports and charts and to consult with and secure information from treating physicians and employ other persons on my behalf, as my Agent may deem necessary, to assist in making medical treatment decisions.
4. I choose no organ donation.
The Living Will:
In regards to the common-form online seen below (even on so-called “Catholic” websites) I myself again correct the bioethical errors in bold. You can find my version below on a Word document here, too, but without the bold corrections below.)
DECLARATION made this day of (month, year). I, , being of sound mind, willfully and voluntarily make known my desire that my dying not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below and declare that:
If at any time I should have an incurable injury, disease or illness certified to be a terminal condition by two physicians, who have personally examined me, one of whom is my attending physician, and the physicians have determined that my death will occur unless life-sustaining procedures are used and if the application of life-sustaining procedures are used and if the application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process, I direct that life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn and that I be permitted to die naturally with only the administration of medication, food or fluids or the performance of medical procedures deemed necessary to provide me with comfort care with the understanding that the Catholic Church always considers oral and/or artificial nutrition and hydration to be always ordinary (required) care in end of life decisions and that narcotics only be used for pain management, never to induce a state of respiratory arrest.
In the absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of life-sustaining procedures, it is my intention that this declaration be honored by my family and attending physician as the final expression of my legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and accept the consequences from such refusal.
I choose no organ donation.
I understand the full impact of this declaration and I have emotional and mental capacity to make this declaration.
City and State:
The declarant is personally known to me and I believe him/her to be of sound mind.
Edit: After publication, I was informed that Patients Rights Council also has good documents that can be notarized.