2) In response to those who doubt the “human quality” of patients in a “permanent vegetative state”, it is necessary to reaffirm that “the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. 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’” (no. 3).
3) “The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of possible recovery. 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. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering” (no. 4).
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Additional Vatican Commentary Concerning Care of Those in a "Vegetative State"
Here is additional commentary from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in regard to USCCB inquiries regarding the treatment of those in a "vegetative state." In part: