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Life Issues, Medical Choices: Questions and Answers for Catholics

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Medical and technological advances over the last decades have left millions of Catholics grappling with tough issues. When is it permissible to remove a feeding tube from a patient? Is the use of contraceptives for medical purposes acceptable? Is it morally acceptable to try to select the sex of one's baby? What is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary means of preserving life? How does determination of death affect organ donation?

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Medical and technological advances over the last decades have left millions of Catholics grappling with tough issues. When is it permissible to remove a feeding tube from a patient? Is the use of contraceptives for medical purposes acceptable? Is it morally acceptable to try to select the sex of one's baby? What is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary means of preserving life? How does determination of death affect organ donation?

Life Issues, Medical Choices not only provides answers to many questions troubling Catholics, it also supplies fundamental principles of Catholic thought to help readers arrive at morally sound decisions in those areas that have yet to be settled.

Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor offer clear guidance to help you make decisions about complex medical and life issues.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780867168082
  • Publisher: Servant Books
  • Pages: 197
  • Sales rank: 422,224
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

JANET E. SMITH is the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. She wrote Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later and Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader. She speaks nationally and internationally on the church’s teaching on sexuality and on bioethics. Over one million copies of her talk “Contraception: Why Not” have been distributed. DR. CHRISTOPHER KACZOR holds a PH.D. from the University of Notre Dame, studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cologne in Germany, and is the Robert H. Taylor Chair in Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He wrote Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition, The Edge of Life: Human Dignity and Contemporary Bioethics and How to Stay Catholic in College.
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Table of Contents

Introduction     xiii
From a philosophical perspective, what is the value of human life?     1
Why do Catholics value human life so highly?     4
What is the meaning of suffering from a Christian perspective?     8
What does it mean to say that Catholics must follow their consciences?     15
Are Catholics always obliged to follow Church teaching?     18
If a Catholic in ignorance of Church teaching does something contrary to that teaching, such as using in vitro fertilization, does he or she sin?     22
What kinds of actions are intrinsically evil?     25
What does it mean to say that an action is a matter of "prudential judgment"?     27
What is the principle of double effect?     28
Beginning-of-Life Issues
Why is abortion wrong?     33
Since an early embryo can split into twins, is an embryo really an individual? Before the brain develops, is an embryo really rational?     40
Since an embryo cannot experience pain until several weeks into the pregnancy, would abortion be moral before that time?     43
Would abortion to relieve the mental distress of a pregnant woman be moral?     45
Is it moral to have an abortion if the unborn child is handicapped?     46
Is it immoral to use "excess" embryos for research?     48
Which waysof treating ectopic pregnancies are moral?     52
Is it ever morally permissible to induce labor prematurely?     56
Reproductive Technologies
Which reproductive technologies are moral?     60
Is cloning wrong?     65
Is it moral to have a baby in order to provide for the medical needs of an already existing child?     66
Is it morally permissible to "adopt" a frozen embryo?     68
Is it moral to attempt to have a child when genetic factors make it likely that the child may be mentally or physically handicapped?     69
Is it moral to try to select the sex of one's baby?     70
Are ovarian transplants morally permissible?     72
Contraception, Sterilization and Natural Family Planning
Why does the Church teach that contraception is intrinsically immoral?     74
Isn't Natural Family Planning just another form of contraception?     80
If contraception is intrinsically evil, why does the Church permit women to take contraceptives for medical purposes?     83
Is it moral for spouses to use a condom if one of them has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?     86
Is it morally permissible to have sex with a contracepting spouse?     88
Is it moral to use contraceptives as post-rape treatment?     90
Should parents have their daughters receive the vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV)?     91
Would it be moral to put a mentally handicapped woman on a contraceptive or have her sterilized if she is at risk of being sexually abused?     92
Is it morally permissible for a woman to be sterilized if her uterus is so damaged that she could not get through a pregnancy safely?     94
Are couples who have been sterilized morally obliged to get a reversal?     95
End-of-Life Issues
What is euthanasia?     98
Is there an ethical difference between active euthanasia (intending the death of the patient by some act) and passive euthanasia (intending the death of the patient by some omission)?     100
Is it always wrong to let someone die?     101
Is life always a good, even when it involves great suffering?     102
What is the Christian view of the relationship of the soul to the body, and how does it influence the moral evaluation of end-of-life treatments?     105
What is the difference between ordinary means and extraordinary means of preserving life?     109
Should food and water be provided for patients in a persistent vegetative state?     112
How should one respond to the request "Will you help me die?"     115
Are advance directives helpful?     118
Why does the determination of death matter?     120
What is "brain death"? Does the Church approve of using neurological criteria to determine death?     121
What is the "non-heart-beating donor" procedure for obtaining organs? Is it morally acceptable?     126
Do hospital futility policies accord with Catholic morality?     128
What is the sacrament of the sick? When should Catholics have recourse to it?     130
Cooperation With Evil
Sometimes health care professionals are asked to perform actions that may make them guilty of cooperating with the evil actions of others, such as assisting in abortion. How do these workers know when they must refuse to do certain things?     133
Is it moral for a Catholic pharmacist to fill prescriptions for contraceptives? Is it moral for a Catholic nurse to give Depo-Provera shots?     136
What is scandal? In the practice of medicine, what kind of behavior causes scandal?     139
Is it moral to use vaccines that have been produced from aborted fetuses?     141
Is it morally acceptable to separate conjoined twins?     144
Is it moral to have a healthy breast removed because of a genetic propensity to breast cancer?     147
What if a patient cannot be persuaded to do what is morally correct?     148
Does a physician need to respect the decision of a Jehovah's Witness to refuse a blood transfusion?     153
What steps should a Catholic working at a Catholic hospital take in the face of evidence that the hospital or those working there are engaging in practices recognized by the Church as incompatible with true human dignity?     156
The Ten Commandments for Health Care Professionals and Patients 160
Helpful Resources     172
Notes     179
Index     189
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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Informative and objective

    Clear and accurate articulation of the objective and rational basis for the Catholic teaching on medical ethics

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