Euthanasia has been the main topic in the news over the past few weeks due to the Terri Schiavo case. Her tragic circumstances and the grief and suffering of her family and friends have touched our hearts. Some people agree with the methods being used to "let her die with dignity", others oppose these actions because of religious and moral beliefs.
The medical experts have not been able to agree on the extent of her brain damage or cognizant abilities. This has raised "reasonable doubt" as to whether she is indeed in a persistent vegetative state. By using the PVS diagnosis, Mr. Schiavo has obtained from the courts the right to withhold life-giving treatment including food and water. These court decisions have taken away her Constitutional right to life, and even her religious right to Communion, as Mr. Schiavo did just this past Easter Sunday, not allowing her to be given Communion.
Mr. Schaivo's lawyer announced that the Catholic sacrament would be allowed once more before her death, although he would not say when.
There are moral and ethical laws that can help families choose the right course of action when dealing with these life and death matters. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a guide for practicing Catholics.
In the Catechism part three, reference no. 2276 states: "Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible. Reference no. 2278 states: Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and...