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Vatican bioethicist says patient's tube 'direct euthanasia'

Removing the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman, or other patients in a similar condition amounts to "direct euthanasia", a "cruel way of killing someone," said the Vatican's top bioethicist.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the academy usually does not comment on specific cases before courts, but "silence in this case could be interpreted as approval."

The bishop told Vatican Radio on Friday that withdrawing Schiavo's gastric tube would not be a matter of allowing her to die, but would "inflict death."

Judge George W. Greer of Florida's Pinellas County Circuit Court ruled on 25 February that Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's husband, could order doctors to remove the feeding tube on 18 March.

Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have opposed their son-in-law's efforts.

Bishop Sgreccia spoke to Vatican Radio the day after Greer ruled the state's Department of Children and Families could not intervene in the process.

Schiavo, 41, has been impaired for the past 15 years. She can breathe on her own but requires nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube.

Bishop Sgreccia told Vatican Radio, "Terri Schiavo must be considered a living human person, deprived of full consciousness, whose juridical rights must be recognized, respected and defended.

"The removal of the gastric tube used for nourishing her cannot be considered an 'extraordinary' measure or a therapeutic measure," he said. "It is an essential part of the way in which Mrs. Terri Schiavo is nourished and hydrated.

"As far as we are concerned, denying someone access to food and water is a cruel way of killing someone," he said.

Bishop Sgreccia said he did not want to get into questions about Schiavo's husband, parents or economic situation.

"Taking into account only medical and anthropological considerations," he said, "we feel an obligation to affirm that such a decision violates the rights of Terri Schiavo and, therefore, constitutes an abuse of judicial authority."

Vatican bioethicist says removing Schiavo's tube 'direct euthanasia' (Catholic News Service 11/3/05)

Cardinal joins with Florida bishops in statement on Schiavo case (Catholic News Service 10/3/05)
US bishops issue statement on Terri Schiavo, urge continued treatment (Catholic News Agency 11/3/05)
Donor offers $1 million to Schiavo husband to let her live (Catholic World News 11/3/05)
Mel Gibson Speaks Out on Terri Schiavo Situation (Christian Communication Network 12/3/05)

14 Mar 2005