Allowing people to make their own informed decisions regarding the extent of end-of-life medical treatment is crucial to respecting all people as persons. Indeed, that view was first promoted by the late great Paul Ramsey, the Christian theologian/bioethicist, in his pioneering lectures and subsequent book, The Patient as a Person.
Today, many bioethicists push to treat some patients as unpersons. One form of this assault is futile care theory–which presumes to give doctors and bioethicists the right to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment based on their personal values–rather than those of patients and families. Most alarmingly, much advocacy for medical futility is coming from some Catholic hospitals and associations. Thus, as I criticized in the NRO–the Texas Catholic Conference opposed an attempt to revoke that state’s futile care law and the concept was vigorously promoted in the pages of Health Progress, the journal of the Catholic Health Association.