Action Alert!

Those danged pro-lifers

By Diogenes (articles - email) | Mar 28, 2005

As he told Newsweek what a fine idea it would be to starve Terri Schiavo, the Rev. John ("Pull the plug") Paris, SJ, had angry words for the "radical right-to-life segment of thinking" that dares to disagree with him.

Among its many other faults, Paris suggests, is the willingness of the pro-movement to twist the words of Pope John Paul II, regarding the provision of food and water (or "nutrition and hydration," if you want to make it sound more technical) to patients who are unconscious.

Father Paris charges:

What the right-to-lifers want to say is, the Pope said you must always use artificial nutrition and fluids for patients in persistent vegetative state—and there’s no exception.

OK; that's what the "right-to-lifers" want you to think the Pope said. So what did the Pope say? Here it is:

I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.

Do you notice a whole lot of difference? Neither do I.

By the way, the Pope stated clearly that such care is “ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory.” I think I know what "morally obligatory" means, but maybe Father Paris could help us understand a bit better.

One more thing: In that same speech, Pope John Paul indicated his extreme distaste for the use of the term "persistent vegetative state." He said: “A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal.’”

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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