Volume 10, Issue 4, Winter 2010
Denying Food and Water
The Real-World Implications
Life-support technology may become a death-prolonging horror, and some people may fear that an over-intellectualized interpretation of traditional moral teaching has led us astray from what a compassionate God wills for the dying. The author addresses this fear. Those who defend “orthodox” teaching on end-of-life issues have a serious obligation not to obscure the compassion implicit in the traditional distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means. There is no medical or moral obligation to prolong dying or make it more burdensome with interventions that offer little benefit, and there is nothing immoral about pain relief. What is prohibited is killing: any action or omission that has the express or implicit purpose of ending a life. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 10.4 (Winter 2010): 695–705.