April 24th 2004


  Buy Issue 2680
Qty:

Articles from this issue:

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Islamic militants threaten to derail Iraq hand-over

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Defence reserves crisis looms

FAMILY: AFA report shoots hole in lower fertility theory

National superannuation (letter)

Whither farming? (letter)

True samurais (letter)

UNITED NATIONS: Kofi Annan and the Rwanda genocide

FAMILY: The solution to today's fatherhood crisis

FEEDING TUBES: Pope condemns 'euthanasia by omission'

BOOKS: The Long Truce: How Toleration Made the World Safe for Power and Profit, by A.J. Conyers

COVER STORY: Federal inquiry puts brakes on river flow plans

COVER STORY 2: Report vindicates farmers over Murray-Darling Basin

EDITORIAL: Family Congress confronts new challenges

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Budget - next test for Federal Government

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Pumpernickel politics / Latham's folly / George Carey

Books promotion page

survey link

FONT SIZE:

FEEDING TUBES:
Pope condemns 'euthanasia by omission'


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, April 24, 2004
In a blunt and uncompromising statement, Pope John Paul II has condemned the removal of feeding tubes from patients in a persistent vegetative state, calling it "genuine euthanasia by omission".

The issues of removing feeding tubes has sparked several court battles in Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

In a highly publicised case in Tampa, Florida, the husband of a severely brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, has been seeking to have his wife's feeding tube removed so that she can die.

However, the Pope has argued that providing food and water to such patients should be considered as "morally obligatory".

March conference

The Pope was speaking on March 20 to a Vatican conference on the ethical dilemmas of dealing with incapacitated patients. The conference was organised by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and the Pontifical Academy for Life, a Vatican advisory body.

He asserted: "A man, even if he is gravely ill or limited in the exercise of his higher functions, is and always will be a man; he will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal'...

"The sick person, in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or his natural end, still has the right to basic health care and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed.

"He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery."

The Pope acknowledged that, statistically speaking, the recovery of patients is increasingly more difficult as the condition of vegetative state is prolonged over time.

However, he said: "We must neither forget nor underestimate that there are well-documented cases of at least partial recovery, even after many years. We can thus state that medical science, up till now, is still unable to predict with certainty who, among patients in this condition, will recover and who will not."

Since no one knows when a patient in a vegetative state might awaken, "the evaluation of the probability, founded on diminishing hope of recovery after the vegetative state has lasted for more than a year, cannot ethically justify the abandonment or interruption of minimal care for the patient, including food and water", he said.

"Death by starvation or thirst is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and deliberately, genuine euthanasia by omission."

Similarly, he also rejected "quality of life" arguments as justifications for letting incapacitated patients die of hunger or thirst.

Considerations about "quality of life", he warned, are often dictated by psychological, social and economic pressures. But these could not take precedence over "the value of the fundamental good which we are trying to protect, that of human life."

Basing decisions regarding a person's life on someone else's evaluation of its quality, he asserted, was liable to undermine human dignity "by introducing into social relations a discriminatory and eugenic principle."

Even the term "vegetative", the Pope warned, risked demeaning the value and personal dignity of incapacitated patients.

He said: "This term, even when confined to the clinical context, is certainly not the most felicitous when applied to human beings."

John Paul has consistently opposed euthanasia, which the Vatican defines as "an action or omission which, by its very nature and intention, brings about death to end pain".

Such an act, says the Pope, is always "a serious violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person."

In his comments to the Vatican conference, he said that the families of incapacitated patients "cannot be left alone with their heavy human, psychological and financial burden"

Society, he said, must allot sufficient resources, not only to seek cures, but also to give financial support and home assistance for families when patients were moved back home.

Proper care for these patients and their families, the Pope stressed, entailed doctors, medical staff and volunteers assuring the families concerned that they were "there as allies in this struggle with them".

"The participation of volunteers," he said, "represents a basic support to enable the family to break out of its isolation and to help it to realise that it is a precious and not a forsaken part of the social fabric."




























Join email list

Join e-newsletter list


Your cart has 0 items



Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers



Trending articles

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal rebuts commission's 'Get Pell' campaign

COVER STORY Anti-discrimination law validates Safe Schools

U.S. AFFAIRS First Brexit, now Trump: it's the economy, stupid!

INDUSTRY AND ENVIRONMENT Wikileaks reveals U.S, funding behind anti-coal campaign

COVER STORY QUT discrimination case exposes Human Rights Commission failings

FOREIGN AFFAIRS How the left whitewashed Fidel Castro

ANALYSIS What is possible to a Trump Whitehouse



News and views from around the world

19-year-old homeschooled pro-lifer wins Ontario election by landslide (Lianne Laurence)

Trump makes right choice for education secretary (National Review)

Transgender conformity (Katherine Kersten)

Sex education programs do not reduce teen pregnancy or STI rates (Philippa Taylor)

Photographer who captured Safe Schools founder harassing bystander shuts down business (Frank Chung)

Is the global middle class here to stay? (Samuel Rines)

Donald Trump could end America's new feudalism (Joel Kotkin)

It just got easier to find the perpetrators of Stalin's purges (David Filipov)

Castro's death eradicate bacillus of old-style Marxism (Gerald Warner)

Labor MP Terri Butler in QUT race case apology (Geoff Chambers)



























© Copyright NewsWeekly.com.au 2011
Last Modified:
December 2, 2016, 2:36 pm