Health Care and Religious Ethics

Modernization and technology has brought so many wonders in health care industry but it also brought many challenges for the practitioners that sometimes it would be difficult to make a decision where morality is concerned. Take the case of a pre-mature infant diagnosed of cerebral palsy.

Must he be resuscitated when everyone knows he has less chance for a long-term survival? Must the doctors apply every technology and facilities they can hold to bring back or to cure the baby?  Christian Ethics would dictate that the baby must be resuscitated.  He may have a weak body but he has a life to live.  His body is the temple of God and by all means he has the right to live no matter how.

To a casuist he may decide using paradigm cases to arrive to a logical decision.  What would he do for instance if it was not a baby but a very sick and very old man who is almost a vegetable?  Casuistry is part of the medieval approach to morality.  It is different from Homeric traditional approach that emphasizes moral values such as hospitality and care.

If an ethical framework must be developed in the health care system it should be based on the sanctity of life and that only God has the right to take it back.

An ethical framework can be a combination of the different approaches such as utilitarian approaches, the question on what is right and wrong, to do what is just and fair, to decide for the common good, and to look at the virtues.  For a practitioner perhaps the most important thing to do before he decides is to recognize the ethical issue concerned and to evaluate every angle of the issue.

What is the personal effect? Is their a legal implication?  Such questions must be answered.  He needs to weigh the consequences of every decision.  He needs to decide to do an action and may reflect on everything afterwards.  And yet, decision should always be grounded with the value of life.


Elliott, Carl. Solving the doctor’s dilemma?: The medieval art of argument by ‘casuistry’ is making a comeback in the US. The new casuists are avoiding abstractions and focusing on real situations, New Scientist. 11 January 1992 viewed 29 of October, 2008 from the-doctors-dilemma-the-medieval-art-of-argumentby-casuistry-is-making-a-comeback-in-the-us-the-new-casuists- are-avoidingabstractions-and-focusing-on-real-situations-.html

Finley, M. I. The World of Odysseus.  Viewed, 29 October 2008 from

Nederman, Cary J. The Meaning of “Aristotelianism” in Medieval Moral and Political Thought. Journal of the History of Ideas  Vol.  57, No 4, October 1996, pp. 563-585

Principles of Ethical Values. Viewed, 29 October 2008 from

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