Decisions at the End of Life: Catholic Tradition
Donovan, G. Kevin
Christian Bioethics. 1997 Dec; 3(3): 188-203.
Medical decisions regarding end-of-life care have undergone significant changes in recent decades, driven by changes in both medicine and society. Catholic tradition in medical ethics offers clear guidance in many issues, and a moral framework accessible to those who do not share the same faith as well as to members of its faith community. In some areas, a Catholic perspective can be seen clearly and confidently, such as in teachings on the permissibility of suicide and euthanasia. In others, such as withdrawal of nutrition and hydration, the Church does not yet speak with one voice and has not closed out the discussion. Yet, it is not in the teaching on individual issues that a Catholic moral tradition offers the most help and comfort, but in its account of what it means to lead a life in Christ, and to prepare for a Christian death. As in the problem of pain and suffering, it is the spiritual support more than the ethical guidance that helps both patients and physicians bear the unbearable and fathom the unfathomable.
Active Euthanasia; Allowing to Die; Artificial Feeding; Attitudes; Attitudes to Death; Brain; Brain Death; Cardiac Death; Costs and Benefits; Consent; Death; Decision Making; Determination of Death; Drugs; Ethics; Euthanasia; Family Members; Intention; Life; Medical Ethics; Medicine; Nutrition; Organ Donation; Pain; Palliative Care; Patients; Physicians; Prolongation of Life; Resuscitation; Risks and Benefits; Roman Catholic Ethics; Suffering; Suicide; Terminal Care; Terminally Ill; Theology; Third Party Consent; Treatment Outcome; Treatment Refusal; Withholding Treatment;