Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis

Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis

Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis

Health Care Ethics: A Catholic Theological Analysis


Health Care Ethics is a comprehensive study of significant issues affecting health care and the ethics of health care from the perspective of Catholic theology. It aims to help Christian, and especially Catholic, health care professionals solve concrete problems in terms of principles rooted in scripture and tested by individual experience; however, its basis in real medical experience makes this book a valuable resource for anyone with a general interest in health care ethics.

This fifth edition, which includes important contributions by Jean deBlois, C. S. J., considers everyday ethical questions and dilemmas in clinical care and deals more deeply with issues of women's health, mental health, sexual orientation, artificial reproduction, and the new social issues in health care. The authors devote special attention to the various ethical theories currently in use in the United States while clearly presenting a method of ethical decision making based in the Catholic tradition. They discuss the needs of the human person, outlining what it means to be human, both as an individual and as part of a community.

This volume has been significantly updated to include new discussions of recent clinical innovations and theoretical issues that have arisen in the field:

• the Human Genome Project• efforts to control sexual selection of infants• efforts to genetically modify the human genotype and phenotype• the development of palliative care as a medical specialty• the acceptance of non-heart beating persons as organ donors• embryo development and stem cell research• reconstructive and cosmetic surgery• nutrition and obesity• medical mistakes• the negative effects of managed care on the patient-physician relationship• recent papal allocution regarding care of patients in a persistent vegetative state and palliative care for dying patients


In the mid-1970s, benedict ashley, O.P., a fellow of the Institute of Religion at the Texas Medical Center, Houston, Texas, and Kevin O'Rourke, O.P., vice president for Medical Ethics at the Catholic Hospital Association, St. Louis, Missouri—both former presidents of the Aquinas Institute of Theology then located in Dubuque, Iowa—sought to produce a volume that would explain The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Facilities of the United States Catholic Bishops Conference (ERD). We had a twofold purpose: (1) to present a study that would consider the basic principles underlying the Catholic understanding of health care ethics and (2) to assist Christian, and especially Catholic, health care professionals and health care facilities in their task of offering service and witness in the Christian tradition, in a milieu influenced by diverse and conflicting value systems. Thus we sought to consider the nature of the human person seeking to fulfill human needs under the influence of grace, explain the principles of Catholic theology that are pertinent to the practice of health care, and present individual clinical issues in health care from this perspective.

As we present this fifth edition of Health Care Ethics, our purpose remains the same as it was when we prepared the first edition. We proceed from the theological perspective of the Catholic Church, and this theological perspective is founded upon sacred scripture but also depends upon human reason, usually referred to as natural law. Hence, as indicated in chapters 1 and 2, we believe that the Catholic theological perspective has much to contribute to the discussion of bioethics in the twenty-first century.

We welcome a third author to this edition, Sister Jean deBlois, C.S.J. Jean was a registered nurse before pursuing studies in moral theology and ethics. She received a Ph.D. in moral . . .

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