Philosophy colloquium to consider care of PVS patients

Dr. Michael Degnan, of the University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department, will give a free presentation, “What Do We Owe PVS Patients? Lessons From the Schiavo Case,” from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall.

The presentation is the first in St. Thomas’ 2004-2005 Philosophy Colloquium series of lectures.

According to Degnan, Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman diagnosed in 1990 as being in a persistent vegetative state, “has shown Americans that PVS patients are not terminally ill and may be aware of their surroundings enough to benefit from physical therapy.”

Schiavo’s case has led to a bitter court battle over whether the husband of the brain-damaged woman should be allowed to remove her feeding tube against the wishes of her parents; the argument reached the Florida Supreme Court early this month.

The Schiavo case will serve as background for Degnan’s consideration of Pope John Paul II’s teaching that providing food and water “should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering” (March 20, 2004, address to the International Congress on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas”).

For more information about this and other presentations in the Philosophy Colloquium series, contact Dr. Stephen Laumakis, (651) 962-5363.