Pope John Paul II surprised much of the medical world in 2004 with his statement insisting that patients in a persistent vegetative state should be provided with nutrition and hydration. Many Catholic bioethicists defended the Pope's claim that the life of all human beings, even those in a persistent vegetative state, was worth protecting. Others argued that the Pope's position marked a shift from the traditional Catholic teaching on the withdrawal of medical treatment at the end of life. The debate among Catholic bioethicists over the Pope's statement grew more intense during the controversy surrounding Terry Schiavo's death in 2005, as bioethicists on both sides of the debate argued about the morals and ethics of removing her feeding tubes. This collection of essays written by prominent Catholic bioethicists addresses the Pope's statement, the moral issues surrounding artificial feeding and hydration, the refusal of treatment, and the ethics of end-of-life care.
From the reviews:
"This collection of essays ... deals primarily with the permissibility, according to Roman Catholic teachings, of withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH). ... Although the book will certainly be most useful to those within the Catholic tradition ... the book will appeal to a variety of other academics as well. ... it is currently the most rigorous philosophical or theological work dedicated to the topic of withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration." (D. Robert MacDougall, Doody's Review Service, October, 2008)
"Tollefsen has done a signal service to the debate by assembling a diverse, thoughtful collection of the work of philosophers and theologians in a single volume. This collection is especially valuable because the contributors represent a variety of viewpoints and theological methods. ... This book is a must read for serious students of this latest debate in Catholic moral theology. ... Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners."
"Christopher Tollefsen has gathered a number of well-known and respected Catholic scholars to discuss a key bioethical issue: the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration from patients, particularly those in a persistent vegetative state. ... Tollefsen has provided an immensely useful resource both for Catholic scholars ... and for those who do not understand or who honestly disagree with Catholic moral principles concerning the proper care of patients in a PVS and others who are nearing the end of life in this world." (Jason T. Eberl, The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Autumn, 2009)