The bioethics center’s statement noted that as of Jan. 12, the patient’s food and water had been restored until an appeal of his case could be made to the European Court of Human Rights.
The director said his analysis, given from a Catholic perspective, “does not interrogate the facts of the case as presented and should not be understood as a comment on the actual moral circumstances of any of the persons involved. The moral reality of the situation may depend on details not presented in the evidence or on details that are presented but are mistaken or misinterpreted.”
The case concerns a Catholic man, known by the initials “RS,” who had a heart attack on Nov. 6, 2020, and who, at the time of the court’s initial judgment in December, was in a coma.
“The Court declared that it was ‘in RS’s best interests not to receive life-sustaining treatment, including artificial ventilation, nutrition and fluids. The result is that RS will die within a few weeks,’” Jones explained.
He noted that “no one can live for ‘a few weeks’ without breathing, so this statement already anticipated that RS might recover the ability to breathe spontaneously after the withdrawal of artificial ventilation.’”
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In the January decision by the Court of Protection there was no reference to ventilation, only to nutrition and hydration, the director said. “In contrast, if clinically assisted nutrition and hydration were provided then RS might live ‘for five years or longer’ though, at best, in a ‘minimally conscious’ state.”
“From a Catholic perspective, to provide food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty is a corporal work of mercy,” Jones commented, adding that “patients should not be abandoned to die from lack of nutrition or hydration, however that is best provided.”
Jones explained that the reason he is publically commenting on the case is because the patient RS is described “as a committed practising Catholic who had ‘expressed his disagreement with a widely reported case in England where the decision was to terminate medical treatment for a very small child born with serious abnormalities.’”