Catholic Bishops Say Changing Definition of Brain Death Could Subject Patients to Euthanasia

Two leading US Catholic groups expressed concerns this month about a proposed redefinition of “brain death” that could lead to killing people who are still alive.

The warning comes from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Bioethics Center as a commission examining the legal definition meets this week, according to the Catholic News Agency.

“The basis for our objection is that the proposed revision would allow patients who show partial brain function to be declared ‘legally dead’ when they are not biologically dead,” the groups responded. in a joint statement.

Fueling their concerns is a proposal by the Uniform Law Commission about changing the definition of brain death to include situations where the patient has suffered “irreversible cessation” of basic brain or breathing functions, CNA reports. The problem is that, in such cases, the patient may still be alive, Catholic leaders warn.

Currently, the standard legal definition of death is “complete brain death,” and it should stay that way, they say.

“Nothing in Catholic teaching provides support for lowering the standard to anything less than the ‘irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain,'” Catholic leaders said. “We are opposed to lowering that standard in the absence of compelling scientific evidence.”

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Here’s more from the report:

The letter further acknowledges that while organ donation is a “generous act” that is fully consistent with Catholic ethical teaching, it can only be performed as long as “the right conditions are met.” The suggestion that “partial brain death is sufficient for vital organ retrieval” may dissuade individuals from becoming donors themselves, they said.

The new criteria, meanwhile, can also be used “to justify protocols that actively block blood flow to the brain,” leading to a transplant group that “directly causes donor death.”

The Catholic Church teaches that every person is valuable from conception to natural death. Its leaders work around the world to uphold the dignity of every person and fight the life-destroying practices of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and embryonic stem cell research.

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