Sunday, September 16, 2007

Vatican reaffirms stance on obligatory nature of ANH

"The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented." And ANH is just as ordinary and proportionate, and therefore just as mandatory, when the patient is in a permanent vegetative state.

This is from the recently posted "Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Confernce of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration," issues by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, as if it needed to be said, "The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these Responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication." The English translation is here, and the official commentary is here.

The big questions now are what will be the effect of these statements on health care decisions by Catholics and on the policies of Catholic healthcare institutions.
posted by tommayo, 10:29 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter