At the beginning of December, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a sweeping federal lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic hospitals, alleging that the Directives, with their prohibition against direct abortion, resulted in negligent care of a pregnant woman named Tamesha Means. Ms. Means’ water broke at 18 weeks, leading to infection of the amniotic membranes, followed by spontaneous labor and delivery of her child. The child lived only a few hours.
Guilt has gotten a lot of bad press recently. We live in an age where guilt is practically always something bad, something to get past with the help of a shrink. Particularly when discussing sex, people will declare that religion and morality do nothing more than make people feel guilty. Andrew Aaron, a sex and marriage therapist in New Bedford, Massachusetts seems to subscribe to this view: “Through centuries,” he writes, “religious education has associated sex with what is wrong and sinful rather than what is sacred. Instead of an expression of the divine, sex is suspiciously regarded as weakness of the flesh. The result of this influence is that sexuality, a natural part of being human, is tainted with shame, guilt, and ambivalence.”
Physicians will sometimes prescribe a hormonal regimen (in the form of a hormonal contraceptive like the Pill) to treat certain gynecological problems like heavy menstrual bleeding, dysmenorrhea (painful periods), PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), endometriosis, or other conditions like severe acne. In these cases, the Pill is used not as a contraceptive, but as a therapy for a medical condition.
Imagine a deadly scenario like this: a successful businessman is rendered unconscious by medical professionals to help him heal after a serious car accident, using powerful pharmaceutical agents to cause a medically-induced coma. A few days later, a business competitor, wanting him dead, enters the hospital and kills the comatose patient.
Several states are considering legislative measures to let physicians prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of a toxic drug to their patients, thereby assisting their patients to commit suicide. This is known as physician-assisted suicide. Advocates of this practice assure us that this can be a good choice for someone who is dying, or who wants to die.
He says a healthy spiritual life can help a person to turn a negative experience into something positive.
Those who seek to justify abortion often try to minimize or deny the humanity of the embryo. In a recent online forum, for example, one participant wrote: “I became a human being at the point that my senses functioned as those of a human being. Before that I was just a mass of cells.” Another followed up: “A pile of cells in a woman’s uterus is not a human being. It lives off of and is part of that woman’s body.”
The use of ventilators can pose particulary challenging problems during end of life situations for families. When should we place a loved one on a ventilator? If somebody is on a ventilator, can we ever “pull the plug?” Understanding our moral duty depends upon whether the use of a ventilator in a particular case can be considered “ordinary” or “extraordinary.”
One widely-encountered idea today is that there is no black and white when it comes to morality, only a kind of “gray area.” This is often taken to mean that we really can’t know with certainty what is right and wrong, allowing us to “push into the gray” as we make certain moral decisions that at first glance appear to be immoral.
In the words of another commentator, “As is more and more obvious, ObamaCare has nothing to do with controlling healthcare costs. It has everything to do with government control. It’s time to admit a mistake, repeal the law, and look at market-based ways to control health care costs.”
Once I met a woman who had worked for years in fashion and modeling. Unsurprisingly, she was strikingly attractive. She was accompanied by her teenage daughter who, by contrast, was rather unremarkable to look at, maybe even a plain-Jane. After spending time with them, I began to sense that the mother, whose life had largely revolved around her appearance, seemed to look down on her daughter, perhaps unconsciously, because of her average appearance. Her daughter seemed aware of this lack of maternal acceptance, and seemed troubled and uncomfortable as she tried to compensate and please her mom in other ways.
Last month, an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommended that 9 to 12 year old boys be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus transmitted through sexual contact. The goal of the recommendations was to prevent cancers caused by HPV, such as certain cancers of the digestive tract.