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Medicine | Artificial Nutrition and Hydration - The New Catholic Debate

Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

The New Catholic Debate

Tollefsen, Christopher (Ed.)

2008, XII, 235 p.

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  • Features voices from all sides of the Catholic discussion in dialogue with one another
  • Includes many of the top Catholic bioethicists in the English speaking world
  • Situates the debate in the larger perspective of the Catholic tradition of end of life care and the dignity of human life as well as the social/communal norms governing the care of the dependent and the role of food in human communities

Pope John Paul II surprised much of the medical world in 2004 with his strongly worded statement insisting that patients in a persistent vegetative state should be provided with nutrition and hydration. While many Catholic bioethicists defended the Pope’s claim that the life of all human beings, even those in a persistent vegetative state or a coma, was worth protecting, others argued that the Pope’s position marked a shift from the traditional Catholic teaching on the withdrawal of medical treatment at the end of life. The debate among Catholic bioethicists over the Pope’s statement only grew more intense during the controversy surrounding Terry Schiavo’s death in 2005, as bioethicists on both sides of the debate argued about the legitimacy of removing her feeding tubes. This collection of essays by some of the most prominent Catholic bioethicists addresses the Pope’s statements, the moral issues surrounding artificial feeding and hydration, the refusal of treatment, and the ethics of care for those at the end of life.

Content Level » Professional/practitioner

Keywords » Moral - death - end of life care - ethics - euthanasia - human dignity - human rights - hydration - nutrition

Related subjects » Applied Ethics & Social Responsibility - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science - Medicine - Religious Studies

Table of contents 

Preface: Christopher Tollefsen;Part One: The Issue;1: Why Do Unresponsive Patients Still Matter?Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P.;2: Are We Morally Obligated to Feed PVS Patients Until Natural Death?Michael Degnan;3: Caring for Persons in the ‘Persistent Vegetative State’ and Pope John Paul II’s March 2004 Address ‘On Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State’.William E. May;4: Food and Fluids: Human Law, Human Rights and Human Interests.Jacqueline Laing;Part Two: Philosophers Address the Issue.5: Quality of Life and Assisted Nutrition.Alfonso Gomez-Lobo;6: Towards Ethical Guidelines for the Use of Artificial Nutrition and Hydration.Joseph Boyle;7: Understanding the Ethics of Artificially Providing Food and Water.J.L.A. Garcia;8: The Ethics of Pope John Paul’s Allocution on Care of the PVS Patient: A Response to J.L.A. Garcia.Peter Cataldo;Part Three: Symposium on the Views of Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, O.P.9: Reflections on the Papal Allocution Concerning Care for PVS Patients.Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, O.P;10:The Papal Allocution Concerning Care for PVS Patients: a Reply to Fr. O’Rourke.Patrick Lee;11: Response to Patrick Lee.Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, O.P.;12: The Morality of Tube Feeding PVS Patients: A Critique of the View of Kevin O’Rourke, O.P.Mark S. Latkovic;Part Four: Concluding Reflections.12: Ten Errors Regarding End of Life Issues, and Especially Artificial Nutrition and Hydration.Christopher Tollefsen.

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