What About The Terminally Ill? Do They Have The Right To Die? (15 Of 26) by Stan Coffey

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What About The Terminally Ill? Do They Have The Right To Die? (15 Of 26)
Issues of the 90's
Dr. Stan Coffey
Deuteronomy 32:39; James 4:14; Ecclesiastes 3:2
4-26-92

INTRODUCTION:
"If I ever become so ill that only machines can keep me alive, please instruct the doctors to pull the plug." So said minister's wife Jacqueline Cole, age 44. She became ill, was in a coma for 41 days, and her husband asked a Maryland judge to order doctors to allow his wife to die according to her own wishes. The judge determined it was too soon, and six days later Jacqueline opened her eyes, came out of her coma, and eventually recovered.

There has always been a "time to be born and a time to die." (Ecc 3:2) Today, however, with the ability to prolong life each family will have to face this issue. How long is too long? What are the medical, legal and moral principles involved?

1. DO WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DIE? (Deu. 32:39)
A. The "right to die" has been defined as the individual's right to determine whether "heroic" measures should be taken (usually involving expensive and mechanical means of life support).
1. This is not the same as euthanasia (The deliberate killing of those who are suffering.
2. Life is sacred and given by God. We cannot condone the deliberate, unnatural taking of life.
3. At the same time, allowing the natural process of death to run its course is not necessarily wrong, when life can only be sustained by extreme medical measures.
4. There is a difference between the prolongation of life and the postponement of death.
5. If we are able, we have the right to say, "Stop, no more." "We also recognize and defend a patient's right to refuse 'extraordinary' means--that is, means which provide no benefit or which impose too great a burden,." American Catholic bishops June, l9
B. What about the merits or disadvantages of a "living will."
1. A living will is a document written and signed by a person at a time when he or she has the mental capacity to dicta ...


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