Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Living Wills And Terri Schiavo

One of the issues I beleive needs to be addressed from our pulpits is medial ethics. It is one of the most important in our day and culture. This applies to but is not limited to

How is one to die?
How do we avoid breaking the command to not murder?
In what way is health a public issue and not a private issue?
In what way is health a private issue and not a public issue?
Since we don't unlimited resources to spend on health care, how do we act in a Christian way when we come to the realities of limited resources in regard to those who are suffering from illness and/or are dying?
How does one think as a Christian and as a health care professional?
How do we think as Christians when it comes to filling out a living will?
How do we think as a Christian health care professional in carrying out a living will?

I have a living will. In the document that I filled out there were several choices. One was to use a feeding tube or not. I decided to keep the feeding tube. I decided this before I had heard of Terri. A feeding tube in my humble opinion is not keeping someone alive artificially, it is nutrition. The way a living will may be worded, it might imply removing feeding tube is a good decision. However, a good living will does not mean you pick the shortest route to the undertaker when life threatening situations fall upon you. I do not see King Saul's decision to do himself in as a noble one. (1 Samuel 31) Some people may use a living will as a means of suicide but that is putting the living will in the worst possilbe usage. A living will can also say that you want to fight to a point that would seem to most people pointless holding on to the appearance of life. I think we need to be careful how we talk about living wills. This whole area of ethical thinking is still maturing. We do not have a one size fits all solution. A living will should not be a death mechanism. Ideally a living will should be a person's informed understanding of what they believe is right and how they want to carry out what they believe to be right. We need to see this topic preached on so that the members of God's church do have an informed understanding of what is right.

Note: I believe our sexuality also falls into the area of medical ethics but that would deserve a much longer posting to address it and so I will stick to the issue of respect for human life.
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