St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Life-Giving Love In An Age Of Technology

Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

Equipment_medical_194224 At their November meeting the US Bishops approved a 5th edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. One of the primary reasons for revising the document was to make the use of artificial nutrition and hydration more explicit, especially for patients in the "persistent vegetative state" (PVS) for whom such feeding had been listed as controversial in the previous edition.

While medically assisted nutrition and hydration are not morally obligatory in certain cases, these forms of basic care should in principle be provided to all patients who need them, including patients diagnosed as being in a "persistent vegetative state" (PVS), because even the most severely debilitated and helpless patient retains the full dignity of a human person and must receive ordinary and proportionate care.