The Pope and Euthanasia

Dr. Michael L. Ford

            When the Pope lay dying, I was on the move listening to the radio as I traveled. This meant I spent hours following news reports as he declined and finally expired. Several times different news agencies carried reports of the Pope’s death which was followed by denials from the Vatican. Whether he had died and the bureaucracy of Rome was buying time for some reason is the subject for another conspiracy buff. I was focused on the reports that came out between those news reports.

            We were told things like the Pope is having trouble swallowing and had been given a “temporary” type of feeding tube. We were also told that the Pope was in a coma, but he is not in a Persistent Vegetative State. That report was denied and then we were told he had regained consciousness and was recognizing and talking with aids. On and on these reports came in variations of what I have just described till finally we got the news that the Pope had passed on to the next world.

            These reports of the Pope’s status seemed to be seeking to make some kind of case that his situation was different from Terri Schiavo’s. While I do not think the Vatican staff feared a visit from one of her “Dr. Death(s)” the attempt to contrast her condition as different from his was apparent. Her case had indeed been different. The Pope was a man dying from natural causes and no matter what anyone says Terri’s was an unnatural death. It seemed to me Vatican officials were also trying to make a case that the Pope’s physical condition was different as well.

            As far as I know there was not anyone who suggested the Pope be denied anything, especially food and water, even though his death was inevitable. Had he indeed been PVS or comatose, I do not think anyone would have suggested he not receive the best care then. (Had he been in that state we would not have been told had he been denied medical services I am sure.) Before he had taken a turn for the worse I read he made an appeal for Terri Schiavo’s life. I can’t help wondering if that he, being so close to death, might have put himself in her place mentally and been repelled by the prospect of suffering such inhuman deprivation as loss of the basics of food and water?


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