Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type



Holistic Medicine traces its provenance to the foundational value or chrism of the Society of Jesus of cura personalis which directs respect be given to all individuals and to their souls — especially whenever medical healing is required. Today, the notion of best patient care should include not merely attention to somatic issues of refractory pain management but, equally, to non-somatic or existential suffering. It is at the end-stage of life that palliative — as opposed to curative — care must be provided. When a condition is seen as medically futile, this Article advocates palliative or deep sedation — when consistent with patient values — should be accepted more fully as efficacious and humane end-of-life medical care.

Roman Catholic moral theology supports the ideal that extraordinary medical measures need not be provided in order to preserve life at its end-stage. The International Association of Catholic Bioethicists acknowledged in 2011 that holistic interventions — when appropriate and consistent with best patient care — should seek to address existential or spiritual suffering by sedation.