Friday, April 02, 2010

To Pull the Plug?

From "Coming Home" by Dr. Gerard M. Nadal: Science in Service of the Pro-Life Movement

I attended a bioethics conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio this past weekend. The theme centered on end of life decisions and care. Much was mentioned about when it is appropriate to discontinue food and water by removing the feeding tube.

Dr. Patrick Lee, Director of the Institute for Bioethics at Franciscan assembled a stellar group of ethicists to deal with these issues. Good speakers provoke good thought and even better conversation/debate, which was all in good supply as well. One observation came to me during much of the discussion on case studies.

It seems that we’ve crossed clearly onto euthanasia’s turf. The Terry Sciavo case was illustrative of far more than the issue of patients making statements about how they would prefer to live. Of course none of us would want to live with significant deficits in function. That’s easy to say NOW. Many of the physicians in attendance spoke of how that sentiment changes when patients mourn their loss of function and begin to adjust to their new reality.

The conditions for which people seek the removal of feeding tubes are most often not associated with the futile attempt at extending life whose imminent end is obvious.

People are now seeking to remove sustenance for conditions that are not at all life-threatening, and not even so much a burden for the patient as they are for the family who would be expected to be the care-givers.

Thus, we seek the death of loved ones increasingly that we may avoid our own existential suffering in adjusting to new and chronic realities not foreseen. Read more.

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