New Jersey Catholic Hospital Withdraws Patient's Food, Water

Trenton, NJ – A Catholic hospital in New Jersey is the subject of criticism from pro-life advocates for withdrawing food and water from a conscious patient. St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital has reportedly withdrawn nutrition and hydration from a 50-year-old Catholic woman, who has been starving to death since Sunday.

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From the end of the article found at
*UPDATE: As of late Thursday afternoon, Mullaney release the following statement:

“The Diocese of Paterson immediately responded to inquiries concerning the medical treatment of a patient at Hospice of New Jersey which leases space from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne. The Diocese wanted to be certain that Catholic ethical principles were being followed.”

“The Diocese was given information that the feeding tube was never removed and that the feedings had been placed on hold due to abdominal pain. At the present time, the Diocese has been informed that the feedings have resumed due to a change in the patient’s condition. The Diocese has been given permission by the family to release this information.”*

This is in keep with Catholic teaching. Food and hydration are never considered extraordinary care, and can only be withheld if not doing so would place the patient in more dire straits that had food and/or hydration been continued. For example, food can be withheld from a patient with a serious bowel obstruction.

This stands in sharp contrast to another case of recent years in which a woman with no such conditions was killed by dehydration at the request of her adulterous husband.

– Mark L. Chance.

Food and water can also be witheld from a patient who is clearly about to die of other causes and for whom the food and water causes additional pain and suffering, even if the witholding hastens death.

The difference is that the goal must be to reduce the pain and suffering in the time that is left, not to cause the death for euthanasia type reasons.

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