Religion and Theology
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Since the 16th century Roman Catholics have reflected on the extent of one's obligation to preserve life. These reflections were partly influenced by developments in medicine during the Renaissance. While it was clear that a Christian was not obligated to do everything to preserve life, it was unclear to what extent one was obligated to preserve life.


Most medical decisions, however, fall somewhere in between these boundaries. Reflections on these decisions were articulated in the language of ordinary and extraordinary means.
The expression "quality of life" has been used by the proponents of practices such as abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia; indeed "quality of life" has become a rallying slogan for those who favor such practices. There is an understandable tendency in some of these Episcopal statements to avoid any public formulation that might suggest endorsement of that kind of quality - of - life ethic. In the public context, these bishops tend to speak in language that portrays life as an absolute good and to eschew language about the quality of life. Such statements sometimes convey the impression that the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means can be worked out in fairly objective terms (e.g. benefits of treatment, the proximity of a patient to death). In fact the language of benefit vs. burden ratio or proportionate vs. disproportionate treatment lends itself to images of a mathematical measurement. But this does not retain all the nuances of traditional teaching. ...
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