End of Life Issues

Life Issues Series:

Important ethical principles to guide health care decisions at the end of life. 

"To live in a manner worthy of our human dignity, and to spend our final days on this earth in peace and comfort, surrounded by loved ones -- that is the hope of each of us. In particular, Christian hope sees these final days as a time to prepare for our eternal destiny." In June of 2011 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on physician-assisted suicide which also affirms our Catholic response to those who are terminally or chronically ill. Read the full statement, "To Live Each Day with Dignity" (PDF).

The USCCB website posts documents dedicated to end of life issues which include Catholic Church teachings on dying, caring for the sick, and legislative action.

Physician-Assisted Suicide Videos From the U.S. Catholic Bishops

Maggie’s Story

Maggie was diagnosed with brain cancer and strongly opposes assisted suicide. Hear this story (YouTube video) of a strong woman with much left to give to her family and society. She has a powerful story of hope and courage—and that no doctor can put a timetable on anyone's life.

Jeanette’s Story: 15 Years Later

In 2000, when Oregon resident, Jeanette Hall, had less than a year to live, she asked her cancer doctor for the pills to commit suicide. Dr. Kenneth Stevens got to know her better and inspired her to consider treatment. The tumor just “melted away” and now—15 years later—Jeanette says: “It’s great to be alive!” The video (YouTube) concludes with a beautiful quotation from Dr. Stevens himself about caring for his patients.

Catholic Health Care Directives

The North Dakota Catholic Conference (NDCC) has published a Catholic health care directive that meets North Dakota law, reflects Catholic teaching, and incorporates the advice of health care providers, ethicists, lawyers, chaplains, and experienced laypersons.

NDCC has created a website with an easy to use order/download form. You can download the copies you need or order multiple copies from the conference at no charge. The website also contains useful information on directives, end-of-life care, Catholic principles on health care decisions, bulletin inserts and links to additional information.

Online Resources