Theological Review on Life Support Treatment
God speakes about life in many ways. Some remarkable statements are included in the idea of man as image of God. The first one is that life comes from God and is his gift, his image, his mark. God is the only owner of life; therefore this is an unthinkable reality, which is removed from the power of any man.
Traditional analyses of death and dying acknowledge, at least implicitly, that decisions about health care take place in the context of relationships, social interdependence, and social obligations. However, bioethics through the middle of the twentieth century still concentrated attention on individual decisions and guarantees of autonomy.
Christian teaching has traditionally opposed active causation of death, even for suffering, terminally ill patients. At the same time, death need not be opposed absolutely. The death of a very elderly or ill person may be accepted as appropriate, and measures to prolong life may be refused.
To determine the moral character of decisions to use or refuse means, the context must be examined. For one thing, a means that is virtually useless or very dangerous in one era of medical practice may improve in efficacy as time goes on. Similarly, what is not tolerable or effective for one patient may be reasonable and useful for another. Moreover, the patient considering the acceptance of death must sometimes take into account the common good, for which he or she may still have a responsibility.