Health Care Civil Rights

RESOURCES

DEFINITIONS

Life-Affirming Healthcare: Medical care in which the paramount principle is the sanctity of life, which means that the life and safety of each person come first and each person receives medical care across their lifespan based on their need for care and never with an intention to hasten death, regardless of their abilities or perceived “quality of life.”

Health Care Advance Directive: The general term for any document in which you provide instructions about your health care wishes or appoint someone to make medical treatment decisions for you when you are unable to make them for yourself. Living wills and medical powers of attorney are both types of health care advance directives.

Euthanasia: An act (e.g., lethal injection, smothering) or an omission (e.g., withholding or withdrawal of lifesaving or life-sustaining medical treatment or basic care) which ends the life of a person for the purpose of eliminating suffering, rationing medical resources, etc.

Stealth Euthanasia: The intentional hastening of a patient’s death while pretending to provide appropriate palliative treatment. (See page 9, “The Earth-Shattering Shift in Medical Ethics.”)

Terminal Sedation: Administering large dosages of sedatives to render and keep a patient unconscious until death. Near the end of life, terminal sedation (TS), also known as “palliative sedation,” is properly used only to relieve extreme pain or agitation when all other comfort measures have proven ineffective. TS is frequently misused with the intention to cause death—the patient is heavily sedated and nutrition and hydration are withheld.

Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS): A physician provides a patient with the means (e.g., a lethal dose of drugs and/or information needed to commit suicide). The last act is done by the patient. This is legal in a small number of states and Washington, D.C., as well as some other countries. (Physician-assisted suicide is a misnomer. There are always others involved—pharmacists, nurses, family and/or friends.)

VSED (Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking): A person refuses to eat and drink in order to cause or hasten his/her death. This is suicide. If healthcare providers assist with “comfort measures” (e.g., drugs) while the patient starves and dehydrates to death, this is a form of assisted suicide. 

Conscientious Objection: When exercised by healthcare practitioners, this is a refusal to do something which conflicts with the practitioner’s religious or ethical principles. Ominously, not only euthanasia activists, but also some prominent academics and lawmakers seek to exclude from the practice of medicine those who refuse to kill their patients.


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