Food & Drink for the Least of These
The Pope Speaks Up for Those on Medical Death Row
by Kenneth D. Whitehead
In March 2004, Pope John Paul II declared at an international conference in Rome that the provision of food and water by tube to unconscious patients in the so-called vegetative state is not “extraordinary” medical care that may or may not be given to them, depending on circumstances, but is rather a part of normal and ordinary patient care. Hence, he said, such care must not be withheld from them, even though most of them have little hope of returning to consciousness, much less of actually recovering.
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Kenneth D. Whitehead is the 2004 recipient of the Blessed Frederic Ozanam Award for Catholic Social Action of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS). He writes frequently on Catholic social and moral issues.
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