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Discuss moral issues related to life and death.

Mrs. Jaansen is a Roman Catholic Christian 58 year old school teacher. Six weeks ago she suffered a stroke that left her with severe deficits. Her doctor told her family that, because of her injury, she will be unable to walk on her own, feed herself or be independent from full assistance for the remainder of her life. She remains in the hospital and has not communicated with her family in any way since the stroke. She is breathing on her own but will most likely experience unpredictable bouts of respiratory distress for the rest of her life, requiring future mechanical ventilation. She is receiving nutrients through a feeding tube, which was surgically inserted in her stomach. Her husband wants the doctor to remove the feeding tube and permit the effects of the stroke to take their natural course. He is sure that this is what his wife would want, especially in light of the grim diagnosis. He knows this not only from what she has told him in the past, but also because of her free and independent character. He believes that she would not want to live like this. The doctor is not comfortable removing the feeding tube because she believes it to be necessary to sustain life. Questions to consider in the case study: Do you think the husband’s request is reasonable? What do you think about the doctor’s response? If you were the husband how would your proceed? Do you think you can remove the feeding tube and still honor the sanctity of the patient’s life? What can you find in the teaching of the Catholic Church to help inform the patient’s caregivers so that they can decide on a course of action?


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