End of Life Health Care Directives


The local health care facility has a form called life care planning and physician order for life sustaining treatment. There are various questions in the form. Does the Catholic Church have a teaching on which directive is most moral or whether there are directives which go against Catholic teaching. For example:

  1. if you have a sudden accident or stroke and ventilators and feeding tubes are required to keep you alive. Choices:
    a. I want to stop life sustaining treatment.
    b. I want to continue life sustaining treatment.
  2. Your heart and breathing have stopped. CPR includes medicines, electrical shock, breathing tubes forceful pushing down on the chest.
    a.I want CPR attempted.
    b. I don’t want CPR but rather permit a natural death.
  3. Medical intervention: Choices:
    a. full treatment including intubation, advanced airway intervention, mechanical ventilation, cardioversion, intensive care.
    b. selective treatment: do not intubate and avoid intensive care. but use medical treatments.
    c. comfort focused treatment: relieve pain with medication, use oxygen. Do not use intubation or mechanical ventilation.
  4. Artificially administered nutrition: Choices
    a. long term artificial nutrition, including feeding tubes.
    b. trial period of artificial nutrition, including feeding tubes.
    c. no artificial means of nutrition. No feeding tubes.
    Question. Are all choices morally acceptable, or are there some choices which are considered to be morally unacceptable?

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