Medicine, Health Care, & Ethics

Medicine, Health Care, & Ethics: Catholic Voices

EDITED BY John F. Morris
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 389
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Medicine, Health Care, & Ethics
    Book Description:

    Medicine, Health Care, and Ethics adds to this rich tradition with a collection of contemporary essays that represent the very best efforts of current Catholic scholarship in the field of health care and medical ethics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2081-9
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface: Raising Our Voices
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. PART I. Why “Catholic” Health Care Ethics?
    • [PART I. Introduction]
      (pp. 1-14)

      FROM ITS EARLIEST BEGINNINGS, the Catholic Church has ministered to the sick and dying of the world. The Catholic involvement in health care is considered an important extension of the healing ministry of Jesus, to which all Christians are called. As the late John Paul II explained in 1985 when he established the Pontifical Commission for the Apostolate of Health Care Workers:

      The deep interest which the Church has always demonstrated for the world of the suffering is well known. In this for that matter, she has done nothing more than follow the very eloquent example of her Founder and...

    • CHAPTER 1 Wounded Humanity and Catholic Health Care
      (pp. 15-27)

      Catholic health care today is engaged in a massive ideological struggle with an increasingly powerful school of thought. A leading theorist of this school is Peter Singer, who teaches ethics at Princeton University. In 1994 Singer announced—in his book Rethinking Life and Death (a text used in university ethics courses throughout the nation)—that the 2,000-year-old Western ethic governing decisions about life and death has collapsed. Hardly anyone believes any longer that all human life is sacred, Singer says.

      This collapse applies, he argues, not just to the belief that it is wrong to intentionally end the life of...

    • CHAPTER 2 What Counts as Respect?
      (pp. 28-42)

      Almost all health care institutions and personnel are, in some sense, committed to the principle of respect for persons. The mission statements of countless hospitals and health care institutions begin with some formulation of respect for persons, as do the codes of ethics of almost every group of health care professionals. Despite the near universal concern in health care to treat people with respect, there are many cases and instances in which there is significant disagreement about what it means to treat a person with respect.

      One area in which there is significant disagreement centers around the question “Who counts...

      (pp. 43-44)
  6. PART II. Human Reproduction
    • [PART II. Introduction]
      (pp. 45-58)

      THE GENERAL CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE on human reproduction is rooted in the faith conviction that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. As explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.’ Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is ‘in the image of God’; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created ‘male and female’; (IV) God established him in his friendship.”¹ From this core belief...

    • CHAPTER 3 New Reproductive Technologies and Catholic Teaching
      (pp. 59-88)

      This paper examines “new reproductive technologies,” i.e., ways of generating human life that dispense with the need for coital union between a man and woman, whether marital or not. In it I will defend the teaching of the Church that God, in his wise and loving plan for human existence, wills that human life be given—“begotten”—only through the marital embrace, i.e., through a procreative marital act, and that, consequently, it is always wrong to generate human life through procedures that substitute for the marital act.

      I will first describe the new reproductive technologies; second, summarize relevant teaching of...

    • CHAPTER 4 Contraception: Did Humane Vitae Contradict Itself?
      (pp. 89-106)

      For many Catholics the teaching of Humanae Vitae against contraception seems absurdly contradictory and hence an abuse of Church authority that can be in good conscience ignored. Certain well-known Catholic moral theologians have supported them in this opinion.¹ Is it not contradictory to approve the practice of Natural Family Planning (abstinence in the woman’s fertile period) in order to prevent pregnancy while condemning the use of contraception for the same purpose? Since the moral purpose or intention and the effect is the same in both cases how can NFP be moral but contraception immoral?²

      Humanae Vitae, however, does not declare...

    • CHAPTER 5 Abortion: A Catholic Moral Analysis
      (pp. 107-124)

      In the spring of 2002 New York City made national headlines when it became the first American city to require abortion training for obstetrics and gynecology residents in its public hospitals.¹ Supporters and critics alike recognized the significance of the policy, as New York remains an influential player in the nation’s medical establishment—New York State trains one in every seven doctors nationwide, while New York City runs the country’s largest public hospital system. If the policy succeeds, its supporters hope to duplicate it across the country in order to reverse a reported decline in the number of physicians performing...

      (pp. 125-126)
  7. PART III. Death and Dying
    • [PART III. Introduction]
      (pp. 127-142)

      WITH THESE WORDS from the first chapter of his encyclical letter The Gospel of Life, John Paul II reminded the world that death was not part of God’s original plan for humanity. Rather, death and the suffering that often accompanies it are both the result of our shared sin. As such, suffering and death have become part of the reality of our common human existence. Yet, the late Holy Father also reminded us that as human beings we were created “for incorruption,” and have regained the promise of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Within the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Medically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration in Medicine and Moral Theology
      (pp. 143-172)

      For a significant portion of the 1980s, ethical issues regarding the use of various forms of support to prolong life grabbed newspaper headlines in the United States. High-profile legal cases over the “right to die,” such as those of Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan, became legal landmarks. Other highly publicized cases, such as those of Brophy, Conroy, Herbert, and Jobes, contributed to making the issue a commonplace part of the news. In the midst of the headlines generated by these and other related cases, many Catholic ethicists attempted to provide analysis and guidance. These cases also elicited frequent formal...

    • CHAPTER 7 Two Arguments against Euthanasia
      (pp. 173-192)

      In addition to abortion, the subject of euthanasia is one of the most discussed and controversial moral topics in contemporary American society. At present, the practice is legal in only one state, Oregon, following passage of that state’s Death with Dignity Act in 1997, and its subsequent survival of several court challenges.¹ But the issue has appeared on the ballot in several other states over the past decade or so, where it has always been defeated. It is almost certain that it will be on the ballot in those same states and in other states in the not too distant...

      (pp. 193-194)
  8. PART IV. Genetics, Stem Cell Research, and Cloning
    • [PART IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 195-210)

      THE CATHOLIC POSITION on the ethics of research on human genetics, cloning, and embryonic versus adult stem cells flows out of the twofold concern to respect human dignity and protect human life that we have discussed in the first three parts of this book. Promoting and improving human life is clearly part of the Catholic mission in health care. Thus, the Catholic Church recognizes that, as part of improving human life, research upon human subjects is permissible. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Scientific, medical, or psychological experiments on human individuals or groups can contribute to healing the...

    • CHAPTER 8 Genetics and Ethics: Questions Raised by the Human Genome Project
      (pp. 211-221)

      Few enterprises have been as grand as the Human Genome Project (HGP). According to its leaders, the project is “an ambitious effort to understand hereditary instructions that make each of us unique.”¹ It is intended “to find the location of the 30,000 or so human genes and to read the entire genetic script, all three billion bits of information, by the year 2005.”

      Researchers have announced that, although some chores remain, the task of identifying and sequencing the human genome is substantially complete. The ultimate goal of the HGP is to decode, letter by letter, the exact sequence of all...

    • CHAPTER 9 Genetic Enhancement as Freedom of Choice: The Myth
      (pp. 222-251)

      The Human Genome Project is essentially complete, with 99 percent of the human genome successfully sequenced.¹ Scientists and commercial institutions predict a bright future for the use of this information. For example, James Watson argues that knowledge of how the “DNA code works is the path by which human health will be reached,”² while marketers for corporations such as Monsanto and Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals tell us that genetically modified foods and drugs will allow us to combat world hunger and cure our most dreaded diseases. On the other hand we also hear voices of caution and fear. Genetic manipulation could...

    • CHAPTER 10 Stem Cells, Cloning, and the Human Person
      (pp. 252-298)

      In this chapter I will explore the contemporary controversy surrounding stem cell research and cloning, and, from the perspective of the Aristotelian-Thomistic personalist tradition, how these technologies are impacting human persons both individually and in society.

      Now, immediately some may object that as a philosopher, and not a scientist, I have no business addressing these growing areas of scientific research. I have been told that I, and others like myself who raise questions about the ethics of cloning and the destructive aspects of some forms of stem cell research, should simply “leave science to the scientists.”

      The thrust of this...

      (pp. 299-300)
  9. PART V. Health Care Reform
    • [PART V. Introduction]
      (pp. 301-308)

      WHY ARE CATHOLICS concerned with health care? The Catholic concern flows out of the Gospel call to serve as Jesus served others, and in so doing to serve Jesus as well. This concern also flows out of the social mission of the Church to work for the common good. As explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.

      Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in...

    • CHAPTER 11 Health Care Reform: Justice and the Common Good
      (pp. 309-333)

      Fragmentation, wasted resources, high costs, and barriers to medical care plague the American health care system. Decades of reform efforts, failed (the Clinton plan in 1994) and successful (State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] in 1997), have alleviated some problems, but exacerbated others.

      This chapter applies central Catholic principles of justice and common good to designing a new set of reforms to meet the health needs of all Americans. It first outlines the meaning of these principles in the context of the unique characteristics of health care delivery and finance in the United States. Then it considers how the system...

    • CHAPTER 12 Health Care Reform and the “Consistent Ethic”
      (pp. 334-348)

      In his living, and especially in his dying, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin embraced the innate dignity of every human being as God’s creation. He was compassionately connected to others, especially, at the end of his life, to those who also suffered from cancer. These personal qualities gave testimony to three core themes of the Catholic moral vision:

      The sacredness of our human life.

      Our call to be responsible stewards of that life.

      The interwoven social fabric of our human existence.²

      Cardinal Bernardin’s life was based on Catholic belief and practice. The articulation of a simple phrase—“the consistent ethic of life”—...

      (pp. 349-350)
  10. General Bibliography
    (pp. 351-356)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 357-358)
  12. Index
    (pp. 359-372)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 373-373)