Why is "life-support" a better name than "life-giving" when speaking of special medical means for sustaining a person's life?
How does the proper use of means reflect both a love and respect for God and others?
The "we will fight death at all costs" spirit also rejects God's sovereign rule over life and death. It believes that through continual use of extraordinary medical means death can be conquered or postponed. In rebellion against God's plan, it proclaims, "We will fight death all the way!"
The dangers of these two sinful extremes, coupled with the advanced modern medical ability and technology, often places individuals and families in difficult decision-requiring positions. How can proper death resistance be balanced with proper death acceptance? When is it proper or not proper to start or stop lifesupport systems? When is it proper or not proper to use special means to restart a person's heart that has stopped? How far should one go in using death-resisting means without sinfully opposing a humble, death-accepting spirit?
The individual particulars involved in each separate case, the details pertaining to the previous questions and many others related to them, are far too numerous and complex to be answered in any brief examination of this subject. However, the following are helpful, general guidelines:
1. Ordinary means must be used at all times. Ordinary means refer to food, shelter, clothing, comfort, companionship, and other expressions of care. This includes all normal medical help and medicines that do not severely affect the person's mind and comfort. A loving use of all ordinary means must be exercised until death separates a loved one from his family.
2. Extraordinary means should be prayerfully used as long as recovery or disease control is a realistic possibility; as long as a distinct, irreversible, short-term death process is not in motion. Extraordinary means refer to medical procedures and medicines that severely disrupt the person's mind and comfort.
3. When the use of extraordinary means is clearly recognized to be no longer therapeutic, but only serves to briefly prolong a person's dying agony, then their use may be discontinued. However,