In the highly emotional enviroment today surrounding the decisions by the
Florida courts and the Federal court to allow Floridian Terri Schiavo to
pass away naturally without extraordinary methods to keep her alive, we felt
a need to look at what the Catholic Church has to say about euthanasia, or
the putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons. Many
news commentators, the President, and others have promoted a philosophy of
"error on the side of life." Some news reports allege the Catholic Church is
in favor of prolonging the life of Schiavo further.
From the official teachings of the Church, the "Catechism of the Catholic
Church," religious scholars and others have looked at various issues of life
and death and written their conclusions accordingly for guidance, and as the
authoritative doctrine of the Church in ordinary and extraordinary matters
According to the Catechism, it is "morally unacceptable" to end a life by
"direct euthenasia." (2277) However, the very next paragraph, number 2278
says "Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous,
extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be
legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment.
Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is
The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or,
if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable
will and legitimate interests must always be respected."
And in the following paragraph explains: "Even if death is thought imminent,
the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted.
The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the
risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human
dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only
foreseen and tolerated as inevitable
Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity.
As such it should be encouraged."
The World Health Organisation defines palliative care as "the active total
care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment".
This definition stresses the terminal nature of the disease.
Thus, it would seem that the courts so far have decided correctly in light
of the documentation in the current case, and the decisions made by her
legal representative, her husband. Your views are welcome and replies are
encouraged on this subject. Click on the link below to comment.