Pope: Feeding tubes a 'moral obligation'

Share this article:

Raising a significant dilemma for Catholic skilled nursing, hospice and hospital providers, Pope John Paul II has announced it is "morally obligatory" to continue tube feeding for individuals in need, regardless of how long it may continue.

He called such treatment "basic care" and "not a medical act," adding that removal of a feeding tube would be "euthanasia by omission." Catholic hospitals may not provide services forbidden by the church, even for non-Catholic patients.
 
The Pope's stand is "a stunner, to say the least," said Laurence O'Connell, director of Park Ridge Center for Health, Faith and Ethics in Chicago, in a USA Today article Thursday.
 
Caregivers were not sure what the Pope's stance would mean for advance directives already drawn up that might declare no "extraordinary" measures should be used to continue one's life.
 
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that feeding tubes are medical treatments. The Catholic Hospital Association (CHA), for example, considers feeding tubes for people in a vegetative state as "medical treatment" that may or may not be discontinued.
 
Months of discussion among moral theologians are likely before U.S. bishops revise directives, according to officials.
Share this article:

More in News

Bulk of Medicaid to be managed care in two years: Avalere

Bulk of Medicaid to be managed care in ...

More than three-quarters of Medicaid beneficiaries will be enrolled in a managed care plan as of 2016, according to an Avalere Health analysis released Thursday. The numbers reveal that managed ...

Nursing home asked for employee's personal information too often, jury rules

The human resources department of a Maine nursing home did not properly protect a former employee's personal identification information, a jury recently ruled.

Test could confirm sepsis within an hour

Nursing home residents might benefit from a new way of diagnosing and treating sepsis made possible by discoveries out of the University of British Columbia.