Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ethical Treatment of People with Significant Cognitive or Psychiatric Impairments: Two Issues

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an August 17th ruling, In Re: D.L.H, An Incapacitated Person. As reported in the Philadelphia Bulletin, it "determined that state law requires life-preserving treatment for people who are not near death and have not refused treatment." As per the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania, the ruling assures

  • "that individuals with disabilities are not denied necessary life-preserving medical treatment. In Re: D.L.H. involved a 53-year-old man with an intellectual disability who has resided at Ebensburg Center, a state institution, for most of his life....[As per] the Pennsylvania Supreme Court...Act 169 explicitly allows only competent individuals or health care agents appointed pursuant to valid health care advance directives (made by a person when s/he was competent to do so) to refuse life-preserving treatment. Act 169 does not permit guardians to make those decisions.... In sum, the Court unanimously held that 'where, as here, life-preserving treatment is at issue for an incompetent person who is not suffering from an end-stage condition or permanent unconsciousness, and that person has no health care agent, the Act [169] mandates that care must be provided.' In reaching this holding, the Court appears to have implicitly rejected the Superior Court's suggestion that, under some circumstances, courts might authorize guardians to refuse life-preserving treatment."

The teaching of the Charter for Health Care Workers goes further. While there is no obligation for a dying person to consent to disproportionate treatment, there is no "right to die," just as there is no right to euthanasia! and no right to suicide! This is an expression of belief in each person's human dignity - the sacredness of her/his life.

As per the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being." As stated in the Principle of Personalized Sexuality, "Sexual acts have 'unitive' & 'procreative' dimensions. Reserved for marriage, they unite a couple. Each act is to be open to the transmission of new life." Hence, Chastity is a call/challenge for everyone - man or woman, married or single, young or old, disabled or not disabled.

As per The Truth & Meaning of Human Sexuality, there are certainly challenges to teaching & promoting chastity in our day & time - but these challenges are far from insurmountable. On a very human, very practical level, the teaching of chastity is the absolute best way to combat STDs; it also helps in safeguarding against adultery, divorce, sexual exploitation and unmarried childbearing. Teaching chastity to individuals attests to our belief in their human dignity - the sacredness of their lives.

Teaching natural family planning - particularly NaPro Technology - is aimed at married couples and those who will marry. Be that said, there are certainly a limitless array of way to adapt teaching strategies to meet individuals' particular needs.

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010