US bishops approve new directive on nutrition, hydration and ‘vegetative state’
November 18, 2009
By a 219-4 margin, the bishops of the United States have voted to revise their “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” to reflect the language of a 2004 address by Pope John Paul II and a 2007 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “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,” according to the revised directive. “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.”
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