Baby Charlie and Ethical Healthcare DecisionmakingJuly 31, 2017 4:52 am
by the Nebraska Catholic Conference on July 21, 2017
Baby Charlie Gard has been in the international media spotlight for several weeks. His medical situation is tragic. The tragedy is compounded by ongoing legal battles over Baby Charlie’s medical care. While Baby Charlie’s situation is unique, it is representative of other healthcare decisionmaking experiences, including those occurring in the context of physician-assisted suicide.
Underlying these medical-legal realities is the question: what constitutes ethical healthcare decisionmaking? This question invites and demands knowing and acting on fundamental principles accessible to us both as a matter of human reason and Christian faith.
When faced with a healthcare decision two extremes must be avoided: 1) intentionally causing death; and 2) employing useless or burdensome technology even when a patient may legitimately wish to forego it.
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