Preparing For End-Of- Life Care: Advance Planning Documents

While the Texas Advance Directives act has a sample advance directive, it is important to remember that a simple checklist of possible medical scenarios is no substitute for the designation of a health care proxy and a thorough discussion of one's beliefs with that person.

The Bishops of Texas were instrumental in advocating for a law signed by Governor Greg Abbott in June 2015, which gives clarity to the 1999 Texas Advance Directives Act. Previously Texas law failed to ensure that all patients were provided with ordinary care (i.e., nutrition and hydration). The reformed act includes protections to ensure that food and water are provided unless their provision is actually harmful to the patient.

In light of these critical reforms to the Texas Advance Directives Act, the St. Thomas More Society of the Diocese of Dallas updated their model Directive to Physicians and Medical Power of Attorney. The forms, which have the approval of Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, are available to assist Catholic residents of Texas in receiving end-of-life care in accordance with the Catholic Faith. They can also serve as guides for conversations with your loved ones about end-of-life care decisions.

While the reforms are a great step in the right direction, and advance planning documents can be helpful tools, Catholics are called to prayerfully reflect on healthcare decisions and have frequent conversations with their family and physicians to ensure that their care is provided in accordance with respect for the human person.