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May 13, 1994     The Message
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May 13, 1994
 

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8 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Key U.S. developments in right-to-die By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Two court decisions in May marked a new phase in the U.S. right-to-die debate. They signaled a major cul- tural shift in the 19 years since a comatose young New Jersey woman, Karen Ann Quinlan, made the whole nation aware of how medical technology was changing the way people die. In 1975 Miss Quinlan's par- ents sought a court order to have her respirator turned off so she could die naturally. It provoked a vigorous na- tional debate about the medi- cal, legal and moral dilemmas surrounding the use or refusal of all medical means available to sustain life indefinitely even when the patient was comatose with no hope of improvement. In the 1980s the cutting edge of the debate was whether the right to refuse treatment included even the right to refuse food and water. That debate continues today. Ruling expected to increase pressure on states to fund abortions WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A judge's ruling that federal Medicaid policy supersedes state law on abortion funding points up the need for further congressional action, according to an official of the U.S. bish- ops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Gail Quinn, executive direc- tor of the secretariat, was com- menting May 9 on the decision three days earlier by Denver- based U.S. District Judge Ed- ward Nottingham, who said the Hyde Amendment prohibit- ing federal funding of abortion LinCo Coffee Services Total Beverage Distributor Indiana-Illinois.Kentucky 46 Varities of Coffees and Teas AN MATChtlT Washington 254-4409 Evansville 422-1833 i iii ii I except in case of rape, incest and threats to the mother's life requires states to fund abor- tions in those cases. Nottingham issued a perma- nent injunction against en- forcement of an amendment to the Colorado Constitution that had banned abortion funding except to save the mother's life. He thus threw out all restric- tions on abortion funding in the state. "This decision makes it clear how essential it is for Congress to adopt an amendment this year indicating that the federal Hyde Amendment does not re- qdire states to fund abortions," Ms, Quinn said. "Until that I " __ Jill Ann White Administrator l- "l'f l Hwy. 57 So. Washington, IN 8812-254-4516 l Prairie Village I Living Center ii i i i iii happens states will be sub- jected to enormous pressure to comply or lose Medicaid fund- ing." The Hyde Amendment, named for Rep. Henry J. Hyde, R.-Ill., had for more than a dozen years permitted federal funding of abortions only to save the mother's life. Last year Congress added excep- tions for rape and incest. Sally Richardson, director of the federal Medicaid bureau, announced after the Colorado decision that her office would step up pressure on the 11 states currently not paying for abortions in cases of rape and incest. In addition to Colorado, states not in compliance with federal law include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Mon- tana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah, she said. /../:E... 4-//b 7h SUPPORT CATHOLIC COMMUNICATIONS IN THE DIOCESE OF EVANSVILLE MAY 14-15 You can make it possible for millions of people to see and hear God's word in television shows, videos, and the Catholic press. Help share the Good News. Please give generously to The Catholic Communication Campaign collection in your parish. THE CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN 00:)oo r 00vvs 00ers IIIIIIII i [ I But the issue quickly taking up center stage in the 1990s is: Can doctors help patients kill themselves? Both court cases this May dealt with physician- assisted suicide. On May 2 a Michigan jury found Dr" Jack Kevorkian in- nocent of assisted suicide charges in the death of Thomas Hyde. Hyde was the 20th per- son Kevorkian helped to die, but his was the first case in which a jury reached a verdict. The next day a federal judge in Washington found the law against assisted suicide in that state unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Roth- stein said the 14th Amend- ment guarantees any compe- tent, terminally ill adult the right "to commit physician-as- sisted suicide." Since the Quinlan case the courts have been a major vehi- cle for airing and deciding many difficult end-of-life is- sues. Miss Quinlan, 21, fell into an irreversible coma and was placed on a respirator. After six months her parents sought removal of the respira- tor but the hospital opposed it. In 1976 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the Quinlans' favor. After the res- pirator was turned off, Miss Quinlan lived nine more years in a coma. She died in 1985. Catholic authorities sup- ported the Quinlans. They said their decision followed ac- cepted moral teaching that people are not required to use extraordinary means to pre- serve life. The case helped prompt the first stirrings of living wills and advance directives. In 1976 California adopted the nation's first living will law, letting people declare in ad- vance that as they near death they do not want extraordinary measures taken to keep them alive. A series of court cases in the mid-1980s focused on whether artificial nutrition and hydra- tion can be terminated as well. In 1985 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a feeding tube could be removed from Claire Conroy, an 84- year-old woman who was near death from several medical problems. In 1986 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Paul Brophy, in a persis- tent vegetative state for three years, should have his feeding tube removed. A lower New Jersey court in 1986 ordered a Catholic hospi- tal to comply with Beverly Re- quena's wish not to have a feeding tube inserted when she reached a stage where she could not swallow. Courts in New York and Missouri also accepted the idea of withdrawal of nutrition and hydration from those in a per- sistent vegetative state. But they required a higher stan- dard of clear, convincing evi- dence that, before losing com- petence to decide, the patient had expressed a desire not to have such care. The Nancy Cruzan case in Missouri got the issue into the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1990 the court upheld Missouri's re- fusal to allow Miss Cruzan's parents to halt hydration for who had been in an auto that even if a pl constitutional life support, extend to family the absence the patient's own The Cruzan national tient Today some health care Following Sel 1990 all U now an directives. Assisted new element treatment life and active death. Behind the cases is a many legalize cide. The He spinoff have been reverse sisted In 1991 t an on the The ilar voters. jected In been get proved by  adopted S practic courts The Court SOIl'S dying tional the .] for many quently Miss the state a new request to terminate istered feeding. Many Catholic ! oppose any trition and grounds that are sustenance, treatment, always be means Others have tain limited, even artificial and water tionate some The ira and water issues is final frontier refuse has a right and water tered,