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Christ Bioeth. 2006 Apr;12(1):83-97.

Reflections on the papal allocution concerning care for persistent vegetative state patients.

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  • 1Neiswanger Institute of Bioethics and Health Policy, Strich School of Medicine, Loyola University of Chicago, 2160 S. First Avenue, Bldg. 20, Rm. 280, Maywood, IL 60153, USA.


This article critically examines the recent papal allocution on patients in a persistent vegetative state with regard to the appropriate conditions for considering "reformable statements." In the first part of the article, the purpose and meaning of the allocution are assessed. O'Rourke concludes that give consideration of the individual patient's best interest, prolonging artificial nutrition and hydration is not, in every case, the best option. Although he stresses favorability for preservation of the life of the patient through artificial nutrition and hydration, costs and benefits to the patient should be weighed. Ultimately, he argues in favor of leaving the decision to the patient, his caregivers, and others immediately involved in the case.

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