“Modern medicine has brought us face-to-face with the continuum of human life from conception onwards, and the inescapable reality of human life in the womb. Yet our legal system, and thus our national culture, is being pressed to declare that human life has no inherent worth, that the value of human life can be assigned by the powerful and that the protection of the vulnerable is subject to the arbitrary choice of others. The lives of all who are marginalized by our society are endangered by such a trend.”
– National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 2000
If you are Catholic and need to make an important medical and life changing decision, remember the Holy Spirit is with you to guide you. Since you are Catholic, you have a specific and distinguished identity from others regarding morals, principles, and decisions. If you feel confused and need inspiration, or would like to read the guidance the Church offers (in addition to scripture, the catechism, the clergy and your fellow Catholics),
the USCCB has written an Ethical & Religious Directives for
to help guide you.
This manual stresses the dignity of the human person because we are made in the image and likeness of God, and it addresses specific concerns which affect Catholic health care today. There are a number of changes taking place in our society that are taking advantage of the vulnerability, purity, and innocence of human life. Today we see the destruction of nature and human life in the area of bioethics.
Choose one of the issues below to learn more:
Abortion is the intentional destruction of human life in utero.
Approximately 100 abortions occur each week in the 12 counties of the Diocese of Rochester (NYS Department of Health 1999 Statistics). 1.2 million abortions occur annually in the United States. In the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Sternberg v. Carhart, a majority of five justices ruled that even the killing of a child mostly born alive is protected by what the Court called “the woman’s right to choose.” Abortion is essentially legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Women are at highest risk for abortion from age 17 to age 25. An unknown but significant percentage of women who abort, experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome throughout life. Many seek assistance through post abortion program such as the project Rachel ministries. There is sufficient scientific evidence to establish a cause and effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.
resources to read:
ABC (Abortion/Breast Cancer)
Human cloning is the effort to create humans as copies of other humans. Genetic materials are taken from a person’s body and injected into a human egg, which is then stimulated to begin human growth and development. Cloning treats human beings as products, as either useful as their end product (a cloned baby) or as mere carriers of traits that others find useful (stem cells). The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (S. 790) is currently being considered in the US Congress. Its passage into law would ban all human cloning in this country. Read more here.
Stem cells are human cells found in the body from conception though natural death. These cells are capable of differentiating into different tissues and show promise for disease treatment. Adult stem cells are those cells found in umbilical cord blood, placental tissue and in the blood, bone marrow and some neurological tissue of the already born. Adult stem cells have been successful used to treat diabetes and vision impairment A controversy exists because some researchers prefer to work with the stem cells found in embryos. These stem cells are most able to indefinitely differentiate. A human embryo is destroyed when stem cells are extracted. Read more here.
resources to read:
- What the Church Teaches: Human Stem Cell Research and Cloning by Tara L. Seyfer (OSV 2009)
When a couple finds themselves grieving infertility, there are some who look to new reproductive technologies which pose ethical dilemmas: sperm and egg donation, and surrogacy. These technologies are new in the sense that the social impact of non-genetic relationships on families and children conceived through these means is only recently revealing statistical information (rather than anecdotal). Furthermore, new evidence is surfacing of the health risks involved in these procedures. Additionally, third party reproduction not only limits the opportunities of adopting children in need of parents, but it also undermines the miraculous means of a new human being brought into the world, as TPR encourages the idea that the creation of people is a commodity to obtain, rather than to be given.
resources to read: