Nutrition and Hydration: An Analysis of the Recent Papal Statement in the Light of the Roman Catholic Bioethical Tradition
Shannon, Thomas A.
Christian Bioethics 2006 April; 12(1): 29-41
This article discusses the unexpectedly firm stance professed by John Paul II on the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state, and it implications on previously held standards of judging medical treatments. The traditional ordinary/extraordinary care distinction is assessed in light of complexities of the recent allocution as well as its impact on Catholic individuals and in Catholic health care facilities. Shannon concludes that the papal allocution infers that the average Catholic patient is incapable of making proper judgments about their own care. Shannon sees the preservation of life at all costs as at least highly troubling, if not as a radical move against the Catholic medical ethics tradition.
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