With regard to the above,
I have read what seems to be conflicting ideas on when it is appropriate to refuse end-of-life care, and you might receive differing opinions on this. I can only provide my own understanding of CC teaching:
With regard to the woman of whom you speak, there are a few important factors and questions to consider:
Though she may be “awake and alert”, is she mentally competent to make decisions for herself?
Is her illness fatal; as in, does she suffer from a prognosis in which her situation is irreversible? You say that she is dying, but that doesn’t necessarily point to whether or not imminent death is due to factors which are beyond the control of medical personnel.
You say that her immune system is extremely impaired. As it relates to CC2278 “Discontinuing medical procedures that are. . . dangerous. . . . or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate”. In the situation you described, there is indeed elevated risk of infection that comes with any sort of invasive procedure done toward an immunocompromised patient. So the question I would ask myself is “will life-extending measures be likely to worsen her situation?”
(Just as a side note: TPN (total parenteral nutrition) is not quite the same thing as what many people envision when they think of a “feeding tube”. Ideally, a person requiring long-term feeding would undergo enteral nutrition, which makes the use of the gastro/intestinal tract instead of the venous system. TPN is typically recommended for people whose digestive systems can’t support feedings, such as those with bowel obstructions or inflammatory diseases, etc. It’s often used for emergent situations, and comes with its own potential risks. )
- Her presumed future quality of life is also to be taken into consideration, as per my understanding of the term “burdensome” and “without reasonable hope of a positive outcome”. Will she be in a better or more uncomfortable position than before if she accepts the suggested treatment?
I want to make it clear that I’m not giving any advice here, and I’m only offering my take on the Catechism’s directives. The woman of whom you speak would have to discuss this with her doctor and an informed theologian.
I couldn’t tell if your post is hypothetical or if it reflects a current reality. If someone you know if suffering from this, I offer a sincere prayer for you and her.