The Chaplain and the Patient’s Option: A Catholic Perspective on Medical Aid in Dying
Presented by: Dr. D.W. Donovan D.Bioethics, MA, BCC
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Eligible for 1.5 Continuing Education Hours
Each and every day, hundreds of people will take their last breath and pass away. For some, this will be a peaceful experience, perhaps with loved ones surrounding them. For others, the experience may be more difficult. As Catholic Chaplains sent forth by the Church, we are committed to helping those who have entrusted themselves to our care through this time of transition. In doing so, we attend to the whole person, recognizing a unity of body, mind, and spirit.
In recent years, several states have developed programs that allow terminal patients to accelerate the dying process through the use of medications prescribed by a physician. The availability of such a process (known by various terms such as Physician-Assisted Death, or the End-of-Life Option) has raised concerns for some chaplains. How does one journey with a person in emotional distress, helping them process through various potential courses of action, and still remain faithful to our Catholic tradition and its deep commitment to the sanctity of life?
Let’s talk through that together. Chaplain Donovan has been board-certified since 2001 and earned his doctorate in Medical Ethics in 2015. He has stood for many years at the intersection of chaplaincy and medical ethics. Join this session as he engages with us in a conversation as to how to best approach such situations, recognizing both the legal and ethical principles involved. We’ll conclude our conversation with a case study and a Q & A.
Dr. D.W. “Donovan,” D.Bioethics, MA, MS, BCC serves as Chief Mission Integration Officer at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. A veteran minister with thirty-three years of pastoral experience, he is a board-certified chaplain with advanced degrees in Theology, Biomedical Ethics and Patient Counseling. He completed his doctoral work at Loyola University of Chicago in Medical Ethics and Health Care Policy. As the Chief Mission Integration Officer, Dr. Donovan is a trusted thought partner, advocating for those who are most poor and vulnerable, and providing spiritual and ethical guidance to the ministry as a whole. In his free time, Dr. Donovan enjoys RV trips to the beach with his wife, their three boys and a stubborn beagle. He is an avid reader and is convinced that virtually any issue can best be explained by watching a video clip from The West Wing.