Bioethical Principals of Medical Practice
The Linacre Institute of the Catholic Medical Association
"The Linacre Institute" - Elm Grove, WI - USA
The Catholic Medical Association is an organization dedicated to those who wish to practice their profession in conformity with the Gospel values and the teaching of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.The Linacre Institute was founded within the Catholic Medical Association to develop position papers on the various bioethical issues, based on the following moral and ethical principles:
1. Since there is no incompatibility between science and religion, it is possible to provide the highest standards of medical care without compromising Catholic principles.
2. The life of every individual is created in the image and likeness of God, and is therefore sacred and invioable from conception to natural death.
3. All persons are entitled to a dignified death in God's own time, but directly killing patients or assisting in their suicide is abhorrent regardless of poor quality of life or survival expectancy.
4. The duty to preserve life does not involve an obligation to prolong the dying process by technological measures.
5. A competent patient is entitled to decline extraordinary therapeutic measures whose burdens exceed their benefits.
6. The patient's autonomy does not supercede the conscience of the physician. Therefore, the physician must be free to refuse to participate in immoral procedures, and free to refuse to refer to other providers who might be willing to perform such procedures.
7. Abortion is an unspeakable crime and no Catholic physician should cooperate formally or materially in its performance.
8. The life of an individual is a great good which is a good 'of' the person and not just a good 'for' the person. Life is not merely instrumental to other goals -- it is an intrinsic good.
9. Food and drink are modalities of ordinary care and not a treatment of a disease. Discontinuing nutrition and hydration for a patient who is not imminently dying violates in its intention the distinction between 'causing death' and 'allowing death'.
10. There should be no invidious discrimination in the delivery of medical care based on social or economic factors. An operation which is indicated for the intelligent child of wealthy parents is also indicated for the retarded child of impoverished parents.
11. The unitive and procreative ends of marriage may not be artificially separated. Any measure whose directly intended purpose is to sterilize the patient temporarily or permanently is morally unacceptable.
12. The family as a natural institution is divinely inspired. The family is the essential building block from which society is constructed.
St. Joseph Moscati
13. The economic and social policies of the state should be ordered to the protection and strengthening of families.
14. A family is a group related by birth, marriage or adoption. Any attempt to elevate extramarital or homosexual cohabitation to the status of committed heterosexual marriage is contrary to the best interests of the family and society.
15. It is appropriate for individuals and families to espouse a value system and to promote that system both in private and in their community activities.
16. The value of any individual life is not diminished by physical or mental handicap, economic circumstances or state of dependency based on age.
17. The economy should be ordered so as to provide equality of opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin. Although individual differences may prevent equality of outcome, all individuals should be free to pursue their maximum potential in a just society.
18. The state exists for the individual and not the individual for the state. Medical decisions should be made in the best interests of the individual patient rather than the interests of relatives or the society at large.
19. In an affluent society, rationing of limited medical resources or triage among individual patients should be carried out in accordance with the principles of distributive justice.