KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Catholic Bishops Mandate Food, Water For Comatose Patients With Little Hope Of Recovery

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has directed Catholic hospitals to give food, water and medicine to comatose patients even when there is little hope of recovery, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The bishops "issued the directive Nov. 17 to the more than 1,000 church-affiliated hospitals and nursing homes in the United States and to all Catholic doctors and nurses. Invoking a 2004 speech by Pope John Paul II, the bishops said Catholics must provide nutritional assistance to patients with 'presumably irreversible conditions ... who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.'" The move comes as the conference continues also lobbies for tighter restrictions on abortion funding in health reform legislation in Congress (Egelko, 1/3).

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