Life Issues, Medical Choices


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Author: Smith PhD, Janet E

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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? This book 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.
 

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  Reviews
Author: Vince Sacksteder     Date added: 12/06/2007, 04:10 PM    
*****
The medical choices we make are some of the most wrenching and consequential of our lives, often causing huge family and moral crises. Our current culture doesn’t make matters any easier by constantly pushing “solutions” to life problems that turn out to be enduring sources of grief. Abortion and euthanasia, for example, are two prime examples of solutions that don’t solve anything. So, when the tough time comes, and we all face it sooner or later, it is worth a mountain of money to have some clear ideas about what to do or what not to do. Here is where Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor have done all of us a huge favor. Operating from a specifically Catholic moral framework, they have thought through many of these tough issues and they have packaged them up for us in a form that is highly usable. We could hardly ask for better guides through this rough and troublesome territory. For dozens of years Janet Smith has been a tireless crusader for dependable, life-supporting moral principles. Christopher Kaczor has spent many years thinking, teaching, and writing about the foundations of life-affirming morality. From their classroom work and personal experience, they know what questions are troubling people regarding life and health issues, and their explanations are as clear and simple as the material permits. For example, my own normal response to the question of abortion is very simplistic: “It kills babies; forget it.” The authors, however, take the question much deeper, answering several of the troubling “What if?” questions that circulate in our culture. For example, what if the baby is anencephalic (the brain never develops) and he or she will therefore die almost immediately after birth? Is it OK to terminate that pregnancy? Also, what if there is an ectopic pregnancy (a baby implants outside the womb) and the child cannot be carried until viability? Is it appropriate to destroy that child to avoid harm to the mother? Janet and Christopher discuss ectopic pregnancy with wonderful clarity even though they have to discuss the difficult principle of “double effect.” Simply put, it is right to heal the mother by whatever means are available, but it cannot be right to attack the life of the child. Some of the means of saving the mother’s life may have the dreadful effect of causing the child to die, but that death must never be the direct effect of our actions. Such a choice is humanly unbearable. All the tough issues are represented: tube feeding for the ill and disabled, infertility, cloning, use of stem cells for research, and many others. Where there is a clear consensus of Catholic thinkers and authorities, that is presented clearly and concisely. Where more than one solution may be acceptable, the authors give us the background we need to make an informed decision. In the highly charged atmosphere of medical and bio-science issues, this book is like a breath of fresh air.