(Zenit) Peter Waymel–Bioethics and End-of-Life Issues

In the context of a widespread prevailing medical and social praxis that endanger that value of life perennially defended by the Catholic Church, it can be useful to offer some reflections on end-of-life issues, specifically on the difference between refusing extraordinary measures and suicide (both doctor-assisted and ”˜autonomous’).

A convention held recently at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome on bioethics and end-of-life issues highlighted a number of fields where the Catholic perspective is in sharp conflict with either current medical practice, and trends threatening to go beyond de facto practice silently occurring between doctor, patient, and relatives in hospitals across the world, to become legislated practices, endorsed by law. One such field merits perhaps special attention, due to the likelihood that a given individual is to come across such a situation in the course of his or her life: the moral question regarding the refusal of possibly life-extending treatment, and the ensuing questions of whether this constitutes suicide, or differs moreover from the refusal of food and water.

In the issue of end-of-life practices, Fr. Maurizio Faggioni, O.F.M., professor of moral theology and bioethics at the Pontifical University “Antonianum” in Rome, affirmed that currently there is a distinction that needs to be made between assisted suicide and a refusing life-extending therapeutic measures.

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