More About Health Care, or Grist for the Ill

First of all, some senator, whose name now escapes me, says the “death panels” are a bad thing because doctors shouldn’t be doing end-of-life counseling anyway, that’s the job of Jesus Christ and your minister.  Well, aside from the fact that there ARE no “death panels,” and that many Americans are not Christian and therefore do not look to Jesus Christ for anything connected to the end of their lives, he actually has a point.  We SHOULD be making these decisions in conjunction with our imam, rabbi, high priestess, or pastor, if at all possible.  These guys may not know exactly what kind of life-extending treatment is available, but they certainly know their way through an ethical conundrum. That’s what they DO.  My father, of blessed memory, wrote a living will with the help of his pastor, who witnessed the document.  I relied on it during Dad’s final illness.  Despite the intrinsic sadness of the situation, I was enormously glad to have the document in front of me while dealing with the hospital.  Dad was, admittedly, much better than most people at advance planning in all areas of his life, which made life a whole lot easier for me and my brother.  But note that he didn’t ask his doctor about this stuff; he asked his pastor. And the pastor, relying on the “no heroic measures” language of the pre-Vatican II Catholic church, advised no resuscitation and no artificial ventilation, more than twenty years ago, long before it was a hot topic in political circles.

I think ALL religious organizations should be educating their clergy (and laity, for that matter) about their particular views on end-of-life care, and encouraging people to consult their clergy about these issues.  If they’re not good for that, whatthefrack ARE they good for?

Jane Grey

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