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US bishops release proposed new directive on nutrition, hydration

November 06, 2009

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a proposed new directive on providing nutrition and hydration for patients in a “persistent vegetative state.” The current directive reads:

There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

The proposed new directive reads:

As a general rule, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g., the ‘persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.

Referring to a 2004 address by Pope John Paul II and a 2007 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop William Lori, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, said, “It would be useful to update the Ethical and Religious Directives by inclusion of references to these authoritative documents as well as by incorporation of some of their language and distinctions,” adding, “It is particularly appropriate to do so since the recent clarifications by the Holy See have rendered untenable certain positions that have been defended by some Catholic ethicists.” The bishops will vote on the new directive during their meeting later this month.


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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 06, 2009 10:29 PM ET USA

    Surely they don't think Obamacare will pay for it.