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Topics in bioethics and end-of-life decision-making are reported in the news, dissected in professional journals, and discussed in hospital ethics committees. However, argues Dr. Dolores L. Christie, the critical venue for such questions is everyday life in which real people must make the best possible decisions for themselves or for someone that they love. Every decision has a perspective, rooted in the beliefs of the decision-makers and played out in the unique settings and possibilities of their lives. Last Rights examines end-of-life decisions in the context of the Roman Catholic tradition, a heritage rich in its teaching about the human person, the value of life, and the moral rights and responsibilities inherent to every human being. In addition to bringing the Catholic tradition to bear on end-of-life issues in the largest possible context, Last Rights is written for Catholics seeking a better understanding of their own tradition, ministers who deal with Catholic patients, those who do not understand the perspectives of the Catholic tradition and wish to learn more, and ordinary decision-makers for whom these complex issues can be painful and even paralyzing. Structured so that it can be read as a whole or in parts, Last Rights includes cross-references to related passages throughout the text, a glossary of technical medical and ethical terms, and an appendix and bibliography that provide resources for further study and helpful tools for end-of-life decision-making.
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 A Catholic View of the Human Person Chapter 3 The Catholic Moral Tradition: Objective Elements Chapter 4 The Decision Maker and the Tradition Chapter 5 Making Plans before Dying Chapter 6 When They Say Treatment Is Futile Chapter 7 When the Patient Cannot Respond: Coma or Persistent Vegetative State Chapter 8 When the Patient Cannot Eat: Artificial Nutrition and Hydration Chapter 9 When the Patient Is Ready to Die: Suicide and Its Companions Chapter 10 Final Gifts: Interpersonal Dimensions of Dying Chapter 11 The Final Blessing: Religious and Pastoral Dimensions of Dying