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Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life

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No topic seems to be more hotly debated right now than bioethics. Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic counseling, and assisted suicide are just some of the stories in the forefront of the news. It is every Catholic’s responsibility to know and understand the Church’s teachings regarding these issues. William E. May has taken this multi-faceted, complex topic and offers guidance for all Catholics on making moral choices.

William E. May is the ...

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Overview

No topic seems to be more hotly debated right now than bioethics. Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic counseling, and assisted suicide are just some of the stories in the forefront of the news. It is every Catholic’s responsibility to know and understand the Church’s teachings regarding these issues. William E. May has taken this multi-faceted, complex topic and offers guidance for all Catholics on making moral choices.

William E. May is the Michael J. McGivney Professor of Moral Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He is an internationally known and well respected theologian. He is the coauthor of Catholic Sexual Ethics, Second Edition and author of An Introduction to Moral Theology.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879736835
  • Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor, Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 13
Introduction 15
Chapter 1 Church Teaching and Major Issues in Bioethics 19
1. John Paul II's Encyclical Evangelium Vitae 20
A. Chapter One: "Present-Day Threats to Human Life" 20
B. Chapter Two: "The Christian Message Concerning Life" 22
C. Chapter Three: "God's Holy Law" 24
D. Chapter Four: "For a New Culture of Human Life" 30
2. The Vatican Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation (Donum Vitae) 34
A. Introduction 34
B. Part I: Respect for Human Embryos 35
C. Part II: Interventions Upon Human Procreation 36
D. Part III: Moral Law and Civil Law 38
3. Declaration on Procured Abortion 39
4. The Declaration on Euthanasia 42
A. Introduction 42
B. Part I: The Value of Human Life 42
C. Part II: Euthanasia 43
D. Part III: The Meaning of Suffering for Christians and the Use of Painkillers 43
E. Part IV: Due Proportion in the Use of Remedies 44
Conclusion to Chapter One 45
Endnotes for Chapter One 45
Chapter 2 Making True Moral Judgments and Good Moral Choices 47
1. The Meaning of a "Human Act"; Its Existential and Religious Significance; The Sources of Its Moral Character 48
A. The Meaning of a "Human Act" 48
B. The Existential, Religious Significance of Human Acts as Freely Chosen 49
C. The Sources of the Morality of a Human Act 50
2. Kinds of Human Dignity; Human Freedom and God's Wise and Loving Plan for Human Existence 52
A. Kinds of Human Dignity 52
B. Human Freedom of Choice and God's Wise and Loving Plan for Human Existence 54
3. The Relationship Between the "Good" and Human Choices and Action; The First Principles of Natural Law 55
4. Normative Truths of Natural Law 57
5. Steps in Making True Moral Judgments 60
6. The "Fulfillment" or "Perfection" of Natural Law Through the Redemptive Work of Christ 61
Endnotes for Chapter Two 63
Chapter 3 Generating Human Life: Marriage and the New Reproductive Technologies 65
Introduction 65
1. Part One: Fornication, Adultery, and the Generation of Human Life 66
2. Part Two: Marriage and the Generation of Human Life 67
A. Marriage, Marital Rights and Capacities 67
B. The Meaning of the Marital Act 68
C. "Begetting" Human Life Through the Marital Act 70
3. Part Three: Generating Human Life Through New Reproductive Technologies 71
A. The Teaching of Pius XII and the Pontifical Academy for Life 72
B. The New Reproductive Technologies 73
C. An Ethical and Theological Evaluation of the New Reproductive Technologies 79
4. Part Four: "Assisted" Insemination/Fertilization 87
A. Basic Criteria 87
B. Acknowledged Instances of Assisted Insemination or Fertilization 89
C. Controverted Technologies 90
D. Conclusion to Part Four; A Word About Fertility Drugs 93
5. Part Five: "Rescuing" Frozen Embryos 94
A. There Are No Morally Licit Ways of "Rescuing" Frozen Embryos 95
B. It Can Be Morally Licit for a Woman to Have a Frozen Embryo Transferred to Her Womb and Nurtured 101
C. Even Single Women Can Rightly Nurture and Bear Frozen Embryos 104
D. Conclusion to the "Rescuing of Frozen Embryos" 107
Endnotes for Chapter Three 108
Chapter 4 Contraception and Respect for Human Life 119
Introduction 119
1. Pope John Paul II on the Roots of the Culture of Death and Contraception's Relationship to It 123
2. Contraception vs. "Recourse to the Rhythm of the Cycle": Their Anthropological and Moral Differences, One Ultimately Entailing "Irreconcilable Concepts of the Human Person and of Human Sexuality" 125
A. Contraception: Its Underlying Anthropology and Moral Methodology 125
B. Recourse to the Rhythm of the Cycle: Its Underlying Anthropology and Moral Methodology 132
3. Contraception: An Anti-Life Act 134
4. Contraception: Both Anti-Love and Anti-Life 137
Appendix Preventing Conception When in Danger of Rape or After Rape 140
Endnotes for Chapter Four 142
Chapter 5 Abortion and Human Life 151
Introduction: Structure of This Chapter 151
1. Resume and Clarification of Church Teaching 152
A. The Definition of Abortion 153
B. "Ensoulment" or Infusion of the Immortal Soul 153
C. "Direct" vs. "Indirect" Abortion 154
2. It is Reasonable to Believe that Most People Begin at Fertilization and Unreasonable to Deny This 156
Rejection of Opinions Denying This Truth
A. Personhood Requires Exercisable Cognitive Abilities 159
B. Personhood Depends on Sense Organs and a Brain: The "Delayed Hominization" Theory 162
C. Individual Personhood Cannot Be Established Before Implantation 166
3. The Special Moral Gravity of Abortion, a Woman's "Right" to Abortion, the Difference Between a "Right" and a "Liberty" 170
A. The Unique Moral Gravity of Abortion 170
B. A Woman's "Right" to an Abortion 172
C. The Difference Between a "Right" and a "Liberty" 174
4. Abortion as "Removal" vs. Abortion as "Killing" 176
A. Lee's Analysis and Position 177
B. Critique 179
5. The Management of Ectopic Pregnancies 182
A. Ectopic Pregnancies and Their Frequency 182
B. Medically Available Procedures for Coping with Ectopic Pregnancies 182
C. The Ethical and Religious Directives 183
D. Current Theological Debate Over Management of Tubal Pregnancies 184
Conclusion to Chapter Five 186
Endnotes for Chapter Five 186
Chapter 6 Experimentation on Human Subjects 199
1. Introduction: The Cardinal Principle of Free and Informed Consent 199
A. Basic Types of Experimentation 201
B. The Key Principle or "Canon of Loyalty": The Principle of Free and Informed Consent 201
2. Proxy Consent: Its Meaning, Justification, and Limits 205
A. Proxy Consent in the Therapeutic Situation 205
B. Proxy Consent in the Nontherapeutic Situation 206
3. Research on the Unborn, In Particular, Embryonic Stem-Cell Research 213
A. What Are Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Why Are They Used for Research? 214
B. Legitimate Sources of Stem Cells for Research 215
4. Genetic Therapy 215
A. Gene Therapy: Its Definition and Types 215
B. How Gene Therapy "Works" 216
C. Strategies for Gene Therapy 217
D. Delivering Therapeutic Genes 218
E. The Morality of Somatic Cell Gene Therapy 218
F. Germ-line "Therapy" 219
5. Prenatal and Pre-Implantation Screening 220
A. Prenatal Diagnosis and Screening 220
B. Pre-implantation Diagnosis and Screening 223
6. Genetic Counseling 224
7. The Human Genome Project 227
Endnotes for Chapter Six 228
Chapter 7 Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Care of the Dying 235
The Contemporary Movement for Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide 235
1. Clarifying the Terminology 238
2. The "Ethics of Euthanasia" 240
A. Voluntary Active Euthanasia 240
B. Nonvoluntary Euthanasia 243
C. The Legal or Jurisprudential Issue 245
D. Summary and Conclusion: The "Ethics of Euthanasia" 246
3. Critique of the "Ethics of Euthanasia" 246
A. Autonomy and Voluntary Euthanasia vs. the Sanctity of Life 247
B. "Quality of Life" Judgments and Justice 249
C. Dualism and Euthanasia 250
D. Voluntary Active Euthanasia and the Law 251
4. The "Ethics of Benemortasia" 252
A. The Intrinsic Good of Human Life and the Evil of Intentional Killing 252
B. Criteria for Distinguishing Between "Ordinary" ("Proportionate") and "Extraordinary" ("Disproportionate") Treatments 254
C. Summary: The Presuppositions of the "Ethics of Benemortasia" 262
5. Caring for the Permanently Unconscious and Persons in the "Persistent Vegetative State" 263
A. Description of "Persistent Vegetative State" 263
B. Recommendations by Professional Bodies, etc.: PVS Patients, Consciousness, and Pain 264
C. Responses by U.S. Bishops 266
D. The Theological Position That Providing Tubal Feeding to PVS Patients Is Futile and Unduly Burdensome 267
E. The Theological Position Claiming That Tubal Feeding of PVS Patients is Obligatory 268
6. Advance Directives 270
A. The Living Will 270
B. The Durable Power of Attorney 270
Endnotes for Chapter Seven 273
Chapter 8 Defining Death and Organ Transplantation 283
Introduction 283
Procedure 285
1. Pope John Paul II on Death 286
A. The Value of Human Life, Including Bodily Life 286
B. The Meaning of Death 287
C. Human Death and Organ Transplants 288
2. The Conclusions of the "Working Group" of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 289
A. The Clinical Definition of Death 289
B. Clinical Indications That Death Has Occurred 290
C. Artificial Prolongation of Organ Functions 290
3. The Rationale for Identifying "Brain Death" With Human Death 291
A. Historical Background 291
B. The Consensus on "Brain Death": The Report of the President's Commission 292
C. The Presuppositions Underlying This Consensus 293
4. D. Alan Shewmon's Challenge to "Brain Death" 294
A. Evidence Challenging the Claim That the Brain Is the Central Integrating Organ of the Whole Body 295
B. Criteria for Determining the "Integrative Unity" of the Human Body 297
C. New Criteria for Determining That Death Has Occurred 298
D. A Suggested Protocol for Organ Transplants From the "Brain-Dead" 299
E. Responses to Shewmon's Critique of "Brain Death" 302
F. Conclusion: Retrieving Organs From Persons Declared Brain-Dead 305
5. Organ Donation From the Living (Inter Vivos) 306
Endnotes for Chapter Eight 310
Bibliography and Resources 317
Index 323
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