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In secular ethics discussions, medical futility encompasses several issues only loosely related to one another.Futility of treatment is often confused with "futility" of life.
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach writes that while we cannot force the patient to accept the treatment, the patient should be encouraged to accept the therapy because of the intrinsic value of life lived even in extreme pain.Halacha insists that patients with these illnesses deserve the same full range of treatment that is made available to any other patient. She is brain damaged and remains in what appears to be a persistent vegetative state.They are not "terminal" (until the very end stages of their illnesses) and must be aggressively treated without regard to the apparent "futility" of their lives. All of her bodily functions are essentially normal, but she lacks the ability to "meaningfully" interact with the outside world (although her parents claim that she does minimally respond to their presence and to outside stimuli).A treatment that will not reverse the condition to which it is being applied, even if successful, is an example of true medical futility.Performing CPR on a terminally ill patient whose heart has stopped -- not because of a cardiac abnormality, but because the patient has reached the point at which his body can no longer support life -- is truly futile and may be withheld.