Mixed Church reaction to Korp decision

A Melbourne Archdiocesan spokesperson said Public Advocate Julian Gardner's decision to allow doctors to stop feeding Maria Korp amounts to euthanasia, but Salesian ethicist Fr Norman Ford argued it was justified because the terminally ill patient is "no longer capable of digesting nutrition".

"To die as a result of the deliberate denial of food and hydration is not to die with dignity. We should protect her from misguided notions of compassion," said Archdiocesn spokeswoman Marcia Riordan. "Such decisions are ultimately corrupting of health-care professions."

The Public Advocate should speak for "the weak, the sick, the vulnerable and the abandoned, not decide that any of them are better off dead", she said.

The Age reports today on concerns also expressed by the Uniting and Presbyterian churches, but said the Anglican Church supported the decision.

"We always err on the side of caution because we hold life in such high regard," said Uniting Church ethics spokeswoman Rev Susan Gormann.

But the director of the Catholic-funded Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics, the Dr Norman Ford, said the decision was "perfectly in line with Catholic teaching".

It was justified because Mrs Korp was no longer capable of digesting nutrition and the feeding tube was not alleviating her suffering, he said.

"Ethicists have got to be guided by the clinical reality. Anybody who loved Mrs Korp would not want her to be put through hell on earth before her entry into heaven," he said.

Fr Stan Lim, of Corpus Christi Greenvale, where Mrs Korp was a parishioner, backed the judgment of the public advocate.

"He (Mr Gardner) has thoroughly investigated the case and I trust he's done a thorough job on this one," Father Lim said. "Let the woman die with dignity rather than keep her artificially alive. It's not necessary and it's not just."

Fr Lim said parishioners at his church agreed. "A lot of people are very saddened. She was a lovely woman."

Churches hit out at advocate (The Age 28/7/05)

Ethicist slams decision to "kill" terminal patient (CathNews 27/7/05)

Ethical debate incited by feeding tube decision (ABC Radio AM 27/7/05)
I still love Maria, says Korp (The Australian 28/7/05)
Editorial: Respecting the rights of the dying (The Age 28/7/05)
Spotlight has prolonged Maria's life: guardian (The Age 28/7/05)
Tears flow on final visit (The Age 28/7/05)
Korp visits dying wife (The Mercury 28/7/05)

28 Jul 2005