A consistent life ethic (CLE) should consider the totality of an act: not simply the consequences, but also the intention, the object chosen, and the circumstances of the act. Charles Camosy deserves our respect for boldly declaring the case for CLE, but the devil remains in the details. Without agreement on those details, the consistent life ethic remains as unpredictable and random as Calvinball.
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The supporters of physician-assisted suicide are indefatigable in their quest to legalize the practice in the United States, and they are co-opting the conception of freedom, as understood by the prevailing political thought during the American founding, to support their cause.
The people most harmed by this agenda are seriously ill people hearing from society and physicians that death by overdose will end their problems; other patients suffering from a reduced commitment to care; people with disabilities who are next in line to be seen as a “burden” on others; and lonely and depressed people of any age, seduced by the message that suicide is a positive solution. Adapted from a lecture delivered in June 2019 at the Vita Institute, an educational program for pro-life leaders sponsored by the University of Notre Dame's de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.
Can the US Commission on Unalienable Rights help correct the international human rights paradigm? It all depends on how brave the Trump Administration and Secretary Pompeo are in translating the suggestions of the commission into public policy—both for the State Department and the United Nations.
Does the sexual depravity of Martin Luther King, Jr. negate his work and witness in the cause of racial justice?
The American Nurses Association Draft Position Statement on nursing and assisted suicide completely upends the proper role of nurses, leaving those who object without support.
Elizabeth Anscombe’s philosophical investigation of man’s spiritual nature offers a much-needed antidote to the materialism of our times. For Anscombe, to search for the spiritual is not to look somewhere obscure, but to look at the everyday facts of human life, institutions, and history.
The story of Sohrab Ahmari is one of extremes. By turns, he was a rebel, Iranian expat, an atheist, a bohemian dissident, an anti-Mormon provocateur, a communist, a lawyer, a teacher, a libertine, and finally, a Christian.
Public Discourse is launching two new features: short book notes and long form essays. They'll run occasionally, on Saturdays and Sundays. Today is our first longform essay. Enjoy.
Permission to own slaves and suppress false religions was taught by the Old Testament, never denounced by the New Testament, and accepted in word and deed for very long periods by popes, bishops, and saints. And yet the Church eventually repudiated such permission. So, too, with intentional killing in capital punishment. The fact that death is deserved and proportionate does not license the state or any human being to intend to impose it.
As our public debate coarsens and weakens, Public Discourse will continue to publish respectful, rigorous arguments. We will continue to stand up for the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable members of society.
National politics has its place, but the more important and urgent task for Christians is the construction and maintenance of actual communities in which the personal and social implications of the Christian Confession can be realized.
A culture of disdain for disabled and elderly persons is more likely to come about if we embrace a right to assisted suicide. Each endorsement of suicide endangers not only the lives but also the human dignity and quality of support relationships of persons with burdensome infirmities.
We might call Neil Gorsuch a natural law originalist: a jurist who believes that the content, motivation, form, and impact of the Constitution that he’s called upon to uphold and of the laws he must fairly interpret are—for the most part—sound expressions of the account of human good and human dignity to which he subscribes.
Nothing asserted in Scripture read in light of the New Testament excludes the conclusion that capital punishment is inherently wrong. Nor does any definitive Church teaching. But the new revision of the Catechism, while removing from view an evident instability, remedies none of the underlying tensions and seems likely to obscure the only path to a teaching fully stabilized by adopting that conclusion authoritatively, as an authentic development of doctrine. And the revisionary documents are in other ways disconcerting. Part two of a two-part essay.
The Catholic Catechism’s new section on capital punishment makes no substantive change of teaching. Nor did the 1997 amendment of that section. The 1992 Catechism did change traditional teaching on killing, whether in war, police actions or judicial executions. That authoritative change, partly initiated by Pius XII, has sufficient theological warrants, but it is little understood and needs much more attention. Its logical conclusion is that capital punishment is inherently wrong. But that has not yet been taught. Part one of a two-part essay.
States that do not recognize both natural law and the transformation of law and public reason brought about by the raising of religion to a supernatural good will become confessors of false belief opposed to Christianity, and their great power will turn from supporting Christianity to opposing or even repressing it, especially in relation to its moral teaching.
Assisted death proponents argue for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia on the grounds of promoting autonomy and suspending suffering. Suicide groups like the Dutch Coöperatie Laatste Wil ask the next logical question: why is physician involvement needed at all?
The Hippocratic Oath offers physicians of any generation guidelines, proscriptions, and prescriptions about how to be a good physician. We may not agree with all of its conclusions, but if we unthinkingly dismiss them, we do so at our own peril.
We can’t afford to live without physicians who are devoted to always healing and caring, and never harming. Requesting physician-assisted suicide, like legalizing it, erodes that devotion. A refusal to ask, even on the part of those not committed to the inviolability of human life, helps sustain that devotion.
Patrick Deneen poses good questions but begs others. The second installment in the Public Discourse symposium on Why Liberalism Failed.
Why do some ordinary men and women commit horrible atrocities, while others resist, even if it costs their lives? Studies of the Holocaust offer a potent critique of our customary approaches to moral education.
The whole of Grisez’s account of this sense of Christian philosophy repays study, not least as an exploration of the shape that philosophic wonder first takes in a Catholic educated by a warmly believing household; and then of the place of audacious questioning in a Christian faith firmly held for love of God and in hope for God’s Kingdom.
A physician cannot truly and wholeheartedly work toward bringing his patient to health if he can choose at any time to give up that pursuit and suggest rather that the patient choose death instead.
Is the real healthcare crisis not enough physician assisted suicide laws? Or is it the staggering and increasing number of people losing their battles with mental illness and committing suicide?
We must act now to prevent assisted suicide from gaining a stronger foothold in the United States.