(Crisis Magazine) – Since its introduction by the Harvard Medical School Ad Hoc Committee in 1968, “brain death” has been a subject of controversy, including among Catholics. The critical issue is whether “brain-dead” patients are truly dead or, rather, severely disabled but living human persons.
This distinction is literally a matter of life or death, and it is a matter of practical significance for every American who has a driver’s license. If you chose to become an organ donor on your driver’s license, you can be declared dead using “brain death” criteria prior to your organs being harvested for transplantation.
If “brain-dead” patients are alive, the act of organ harvesting would be the cause of your death and, as such, violate your inherent dignity, that dignity which forms the principle and basis for all of Catholic social teaching. CONTINUE