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Palliative care: mgr. Paglia, it is not “euthanasia”, it is a “way to reduce the demand for death”. “An untreatable patient is not a terminal patient”

We must overcome “a very widespread conceptual and linguistic misunderstanding about palliative care”, which “is not a different name for ‘euthanasia’”, it is “a way to reduce the demand for death”. This is the belief of archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Pav). In his opening address at the international congress on “Palliative Care: Everywhere & by Everyone. Palliative care in every region. Palliative Care in every religion or belief”, promoted in Rome today and tomorrow by PAV, as part of the Pal-Life project for the spreading and development of palliative care in different areas of the world, mgr. Paglia also warns against the misunderstanding of thinking that the only purpose of medicine is curing. “We should never forget – he warns – that any effort to cure makes sense in that deep relationship that makes one take care of a sick person. Therefore, thinking that the failure to cure a sick person is tantamount to a defeat of medicine would be misleading”. “If we cannot cure, we can still soothe pain and suffering and keep taking care of a sick person. An ‘untreatable’ patient is never a ‘terminal’ patient”. So, no to euthanasia and no to futile medical care: two risks that palliative care opposes to, by helping medicine “rediscover its humanistic call which lies in defending the dignity of all human beings in any state they are”. Experience, mgr. Paglia ensures, “largely proves this: abandonment and fear of pain underlie the demand for euthanasia or assisted suicide”; conversely, palliative care “is a way to reduce the demand for death, and to provide comforting support where doctors from different specialisations, relatives and the sick person work together”.


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