webinar examined legitimate indications and applications of palliative sedation from the perspective of
the Catholic moral tradition
Palliative sedation is a medical procedure of last resort, sometimes employed
at the end of life to relieve unbearable suffering from symptoms that cannot be
controlled by any other means. It involves the use of sedative medications in
sufficient amounts to create a state of decreased awareness in the patient until
a desired comfort level is achieved. At times, relief of symptoms is only
achieved by inducing unconsciousness.
This approach to palliation is not without controversy. Some view it as the
equivalent of euthanasia or as an opportunity to hasten death. Others claim that
it is increasingly being misused in palliative care and hospice settings in
order to shorten patients' lives.
The presenter addressed these challenges as a physician and as a moral theologian, and he
responded thoughtfully to the questions raised by webinar participants.
Presenter: Rev. Myles Sheehan, SJ, MD, Provincial, New England Province of
Jesuits, Watertown, Mass.
This is a recording of the webinar held on April 29, 2014.
Run time: 75 minutes