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LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A U.K. court allowed a 34-year-old man to be kept in a coma without food or water until he died.
Speaking for the then-comatose patient referred to only as "MSP," the court ruled on June 3 that he could be starved and sedated, supposedly in accord with his interpreted wishes.
"If MSP's wishes are to be given effect, there should be withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration with continued sedation which, ultimately, will compromise respiration and lead to MSP's death," said the High Court judge.
Battling depression, MSP also had an untreatable bowel condition. Doctors put him in an artificial coma following unsuccessful bowel surgery. They had implanted a temporary stoma with the hope that the surgery would enable his bowel to function properly and return MSP to his normal way of living. After surgery, however, the doctors concluded the stoma would have to be permanent.
MSP had repeatedly expressed horror at the prospect of living with a colostomy bag, worrying that he would not be able to get a job or find a woman who would love him. His parents were also terrified that he would have committed suicide had he been released from the hospital with a stoma. They were convinced, given the number of conversations they had about the subject, that he would rather be dead than alive with this condition.
Millions of people with similar conditions go on to live happy and fulfilling lives. The court, the doctors and his family, however, did not give MSP this chance.
The hospital went to court on behalf of MSP's parents and, supposedly, MSP himself, to see how they could legally cause his death before waking from his coma. The court ruled that death can proceed since it was supposedly in the patient's "best interests." The court spoke for the patient because he was incapacitated — in an artificial coma induced by doctors. The physicians intentionally kept MSP in a state of terminal sedation in order to starve him of nutrition and hydration, a clear form of passive euthanasia. The process eventually killed him.
Treatment plans often anticipate that people facing difficult physical challenges and handicaps become depressed or suicidal. Studies have shown, however, that over time, and perhaps with mental health intervention, the rate of depression among such people is roughly the same as that among the general population.
The euthanasia tentacle of today's Culture of Death has been creeping up in various places around the world. In 2018, Alfie Evans was a year old with an undiagnosed brain condition as a patient in Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England. He was on breathing support and feeding tubes when the hospital refused his parents' wishes to have him moved to another hospital where he could continue experimental treatment of his rare, degenerative, neurological condition.
The courts sided against the parents and with the hospital that was seeking to have Alfie die because tests indicated his brain was physically deteriorating and his senses were no longer functioning. Like the case of MSP, the courts ruled that the hospital was acting "in the best interests of Alfie."
In 2017, Charlie Gard, almost a year old. had a rare genetic disease called Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome. His British parents also battled fervently in the courts, but their baby died before reaching his first birthday. Both President Trump and Pope Francis had tweeted their support, allowing Charlie to remain on life support. Trump tweeted, "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the pope, we would be delighted to do so."
Pope Francis' tweet proclaimed, "To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all." He also said he is "following with affection and sadness the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents. For this, he prays that their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected."
At the end of their battle, the baby's parents lamented that "a lot of time has been wasted," and "our poor boy has been left to just lie in the hospital for months without any treatment, whilst lengthy court battles have been fought. Tragically, having had Charlie's medical notes reviewed by independent experts, we now know had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy," they said.
Physician-assisted suicide has been gaining popularity in the U.S. and Britain. There are now eight U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia in which physician-assisted suicide is a legal option: Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Montana and California.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) condemns both active and passive euthanasia as a form of murder, stating: "Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator" (CCC 2277).
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