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By Ronald P. Hamel, James J. Walter

In the past few a long time, high-profile instances like that of Terry Schiavo have fueled the general public debate over forgoing or retreating man made nutrients and hydration from sufferers in a continual vegetative kingdom (PVS). those situations, even if regarding adults or children, have compelled many to start considering in a measured and cautious method in regards to the ethical legitimacy of permitting sufferers to die. Can households forgo or withdraw synthetic hydration and meals from their family while no desire of restoration turns out attainable? Many Catholics understand that Catholic ethical theology has formulated a well-developed and well-reasoned place in this and different end-of-life concerns, one who distinguishes among ''ordinary'' and ''extraordinary'' remedy. yet contemporary occasions have brought on uncertainty and confusion or even acrimony one of the devoted. In his 2004 allocution, Pope John Paul II proposed that man made nutrients and hydration is a kind of simple care, therefore suggesting that the availability of such care to sufferers neurologically incapable of feeding themselves may be thought of an ethical legal responsibility. The pope's handle, which looked as if it would have provided a brand new improvement to a long time of Catholic future health care ethics, sparked a contentious debate one of the trustworthy over how top to regard completely subconscious sufferers in the tenets of Catholic morality. during this complete and balanced quantity, Ronald Hamel and James Walter current twenty-one essays and articles, contributed by way of physicians, clergy, theologians, and ethicists, to mirror the spectrum of views at the concerns that outline the Catholic debate. equipped into six components, every one with its personal creation, the essays provide scientific info on PVS and feeding tubes; discussions at the Catholic ethical culture and the way it would be altering; ecclesiastical and pastoral statements on forgoing or chickening out foodstuff and hydration; theological and moral analyses at the factor; statement on Pope John Paul II's 2004 allocution; and the theological statement, court docket judgements, and public coverage as a result of the Clarence Herbert and Claire Conroy felony situations. A helpful source for college kids and students, this teachable quantity invitations theological discussion and moral dialogue on essentially the most contested concerns within the church this day.

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Additional resources for Artificial Nutrition and Hydration and the Permanently Unconscious Patient: The Catholic Debate

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The Catholic Tradition and Historical Perspectives Any discussion of forgoing or withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration for patients in a persistent vegetative state must ultimately return to the tradition. For almost five hundred years theologians beginning with the Spanish Dominican theologian Francisco de Vitoria (1486–1546) have addressed the moral obligation to preserve one’s life and the limits to that obligation. ” The duty to preserve life is grounded in the Catholic view toward human life.

The committee concludes that treatment decisions for patients in a persistent vegetative state “should be guided by a presumption in favor of medically assisted nutrition and hydration” (p. 710, emphasis added). Any decisions to withdraw medically assisted nutrition and hydration from such patients should be made by carefully examining the burdens and benefits of the treatment for the individual patients, their families, and the overall community. Medical treatment must never be removed with the direct intention of causing death, but may be removed if the treatment offers no reasonable hope of sustaining life or involves disproportionate risks or burdens.

Kelly, “The Duty to Preserve Life,” Theological Studies 12 (December 1951): 550–56. 26. Pius XII, “The Prolongation of Life,” in Critical Choices and Critical Care, ed. K. W. Wildes (Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press, 1995), 189–96. 27. O’Rourke, Development of Church Teaching on Prolonging Life, p. 5; J. J. Walter makes a similar assessment of morally obligatory and morally optional means of prolonging life, though under a quality of life approach and not an ordinary–extraordinary means approach, in “The Meaning Catholic Teaching on Prolonging Life 49 and Validity of Quality of Life Judgments in Contemporary Roman Catholic Medical Ethics,” in Quality of Life: The New Medical Dilemma, ed.

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