Are Living Wills a "Mortal Sin"?

By: NBC 15
By: NBC 15

The Bishop of the Madison Diocese is clarifying the church's position on living wills.

Bishop Robert Morlino says he needed to do so because of the debate that erupted over the Terry Schiavo case.

The Bishop received lots of letters and emails asking if living wills were a mortal sin. He answered in a recent edition of the Catholic Herald stating that, "According to the church's doctrine, if a living will gets in the way of medical procedures that could prevent death, even if a person is permanently unconscious, it is a mortal sin."

"When the boxes are checked off, one would get the impression that the author of this document intends suicide under certain circumstances, and that can never be for a disciple of Christ," says Bishop Morlino.

"If a doctor helps somebody refuse any unwanted medical treatment, including food and water, that is not considered to be assisting a suicide, it is considered to be carrying out somebody's constitutionally protected right to refuse medical treatment," says Alta Charo Associate Dean of the UW Law School.

Charo of the UW Law School says that is the case under civil law. She understands that Catholics may want to adhere to their churches religious law.

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