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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The National Catholic Bioethics Center Comments on New HHS Proposed Rules

Yesterday The National Catholic Bioethics Center submitted official commentary to the government regarding the: "Proposed Rules on coverage of certain preventive services under the Affordable Care Act ('ACA'), known as the 'Contraceptive Mandate.'"

The statement, a full analysis of the new rules, is concomitant with the Center's initial impression of the rules and reiterates that they are, in fact, more "restrictive of religious freedom than provided for by the decision of the Supreme Court."

To read the full story and the official comment, click HERE

Monday, September 22, 2014

"In This Issue" -- NCBC Director of Publications reflects on the most recent edition of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

As we witness the end of the Summer and look ahead to new beginnings and the resumption of activities that often mark the start of Fall, we at the National Catholic Bioethics Center have just the thing to foster critical thinking, to get your brain up-and-running, and to help bridge the transition between the seasons: The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly. This award-winning publication, one of the NCBC's hallmarks, demonstrates the NCBC's dedication to scholarly excellence in our commentaries on medical ethics. The most recent Summer edition of the Quarterly is detailed below in the commentary of the NCBC Director of Publications, Dr. Edward Furton. Dr. Furton takes time to reflect on each edition of the Quarterly and describes the contents of the current issue for our readers. We are pleased to present Dr. Furton's post, In This Issue, to you here.

If you like what you've read and want more, start receiving your very own QuarterlySubscribe to the NCBQ: Visit the Quarterly's page, HERE, and click the Subscribe button.



When we discuss bioethics, we face the danger of separating sound moral doctrine from the mercy and love of God. Talking about deeply personal subjects, such as contraception, physician-assisted suicide, and same-sex marriage, can provoke very strong and sometimes negative reactions. Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, OP, in “Preaching Catholic Bioethics with Joy and Mercy,” addresses the importance of compassion when speaking about bioethics from the pulpit. Taking desire, joy, and mercy as the keynotes for his presentation, Austriaco lays out various personal stories and examples that effectively convey the core of the Gospel message.

The topics of in vitro fertilization and embryo adoption continue to generate reflection. Elizabeth Rex, in “IVF, Embryo Transfer, and Embryo Adoption,” situates these issues within the broader context of the Church’s concern for embryonic human life, especially as set forth in Donum vitae, the instruction on bioethics from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Rex responds to two recent publica-tions in this journal, one written in defense of “therapeutic IVF” and the other in opposition to embryo adoption. She argues against therapeutic IVF on the grounds that IVF cannot be justified for any reason. She next contends that embryo transfer is a life-saving measure endorsed by a careful reading of the Church’s teaching on care for human beings at the beginning of life.

The NCBQ has published many papers, pro and con, on the possible postfertilization effects of levonorgestrel, the active ingredient in Plan B, the morning-after pill. José Ulises Mena, in “A Prefertilization Mechanism of Action of Plan B,” argues that the drug may have a postovulatory effect that is not abortifacient. The author agrees that clinical studies show that inhibiting ovulation cannot account for the full extent of pregnancy reduction following use of this drug, but it is possible that levonorgestrel acts prior to fertilization by slowing transport of the ovum. This mechanism of action, if true, would avoid moral difficulty. Mena reviews the literature and previous discussions in these pages in light of this possibility.

“The Decline of Natural Law Reasoning,” by Joseph Tham, LC, MD, looks at how the Catholic moral tradition has been increasingly isolated from the wider secular understanding of ethics. The Church’s opposition to contraception, grounded in natural law reasoning and set forth especially in Humanae vitae, was a turning point in this decline, though complaints against the manualist and casuist tradition arose earlier. The idea of an unchanging human nature, with appeals to a universal ethic that applies to all, no longer speaks to contemporary culture. There is a pressing need for new ways of engaging modern understandings of evolutionary science, human anthropology, and the general philosophy of nature in witness to the universal truths of ethics.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s critiques of liberal political philosophy have made him one of the more formidable philosophical thinkers of our time. In “Liberalism, Health Care, and Disorder,” Robert Kinney relies on MacIntyre’s analysis as he explores the sweeping powers accumulated by the federal government under the new health care law. He shows that the expansive definitions of such terms as “health” and “disease” are in part attributable to philosophical conceptions disconnected from objective nature and joined instead to the satisfaction of human desire. These terms, cut loose from any natural foundation, have become powerful instruments in redefining the health care enterprise. Kinney shows that if the practice of medicine is to remain moral, the terms that define health care must remain connected to the natural order.

In “Causal Constraints on Intention,” Steven Jensen takes recent comments by Christopher Tollefsen in defense of the new natural law theory as an opportunity to examine application of the theory to cases of vital conflict. Tollefsen and others advocate a “first-person account” of moral action. What matters in this account are the proposals that we present to our minds as we venture into the world to make moral decisions. The problem with such an account, Jensen suggests, is that it enables the agent to easily redescribe his intentions in ways that avoid reference to the causal connections that exist in the world. These are often deemphasized or even completely neglected in the first-person account of morality. In fact, causality places certain con¬straints on what we can reasonably propose to ourselves as our true intentions. After reviewing the case of self-defense, as well as the action theory of G. E. M. Anscombe, Jensen concludes that the causal connections in the world necessarily intrude on our actions, even when we attempt to reformulate our intentions in ways that ignore or deemphasize them.

Becket Gremmels, Peter Cataldo, Elliott Louis Bedford, and Cornelia Graves, MD, in “The Metaphysical Status of the Placenta,” argue that the placenta, properly considered, does not belong either to the fetus or the mother, but is a quasi-substance that exists in a symbiosis with mother and child. Most Catholic bioethicists hold that the placenta belongs to the child, because it comprises mainly cells derived from the fetus. The authors note that the existing literature does not argue for this position but merely assumes it to be true. They discuss the anatomy and physiology of the pla¬centa and conclude that it has a unique metaphysical standing. They draw no moral conclusions from this assertion, but if their thesis is true, it could have wide-ranging implications. The authors recognize the controversial nature of their paper and, in fidelity to the Church, lay it before the magisterium for consideration and judgment.

Edward J. Furton, MA, PhD
Editor-in-Chief, NCBQ

Friday, August 22, 2014

BREAKING -- The NCBC Releases Official Statement on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

After considering the matter at length, the National Catholic Bioethics Center is happy to announce their official stance regarding the now viral Ice Bucket Challenge used to promote awareness about ALS. The Center had not yet taken a public official position on this: "Challenge [which] started trending in late July 2014 [and] has successfully raised awareness about the disease on a dramatic scale, accomplishing its main purpose with great creativity and fun." We hope you will find our commentary helpful in clarifying many elements of and relating to this popular event.

Please take a few moments and read the NCBC's full commentary on the Ice Bucket Challenge, HERE

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dr. John Haas Delivers Successful Presentations on Eugenics in Modern Society

President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Dr. John Haas, completed three powerful presentations this month at key events in Texas and Los Angeles. His primary addresses concerned The Face of New Eugenics in Austin and the Threats and Challenges of Eugenics, in Los Angeles. In his talks, Dr. Haas grappled with the seemingly unmitigated­­­­--and ever increasing-- use of medical technology in manipulating humans from the unborn to the aged. 

Read the rest of the story on the NCBC home page, HERE.

Speakers resting after the main event in Los Angeles.
From Left: Jennifer Lahl; Father Nicanor Austriaco, OP, S.T.L., Ph.D.; Father Tad Pacholczyk, and Dr. John Haas

More pictures from the incredible event in Los Angeles will be forthcoming here on the blog, so be sure to check back soon!

Thank you for all your incredible work Dr. Haas!

Monday, June 30, 2014

BREAKING -- The NCBC Response to SCOTUS Decision in Support of Religious Freedom

The National Catholic Bioethics Center hails the decision today of the United States Supreme Court in support of the religious freedom of the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation and Hobby Lobby Stores Incorporated!The National Catholic Bioethics Center was a party to an amicus brief signed in support of the religious freedom of the two family-owned for-profit businesses, neither of whose families were Catholic. The rights of these two companies, protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, were violated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate. We give thanks for this decision and offer our congratulations to the brave owners of these companies who have worked hard to carry on and weather the storm of these legal proceedings.

The Center's release states:

"These family-owned businesses took the courageous stand of challenging the assault on their religious freedom, under the guise of preventative health care, by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate. The mandate requires virtually all employers to provide contraceptive, abortifacient, and surgical sterilization insurance coverage, at no cost to the employees, regardless of the deeply held religious objections of employers. Both Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby argued that their deeply held religious beliefs concerning the sanctity of human life were violated by HHS forcing them to pay for abortifacient drugs and devices for their employees..."

Please be sure to read the FULL NCBC statement HERE

Friday, June 6, 2014

BREAKING -- The National Catholic Bioethics Center Supports The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Its Lawsuit Against the HHS Mandate

The National Catholic Bioethics Center officially supports the courageous stance of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they work against this: "Unjust regulation, which seeks to impose a “choice” between the untenable alternatives of supporting the intrinsic evils of contraception, sterilization, and abortion or ceasing to provide basic health care coverage to its employees..."

Be sure to read the full NCBC statement, HERE.

To read the Archdiocesan statement, click HERE.

For a more detailed story on the release itself, visit CatholicPhilly, HERE.

May God bless and guide the Archdiocese throughout this process.


Happy Friday!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The National Catholic Bioethics Center Supports: The CMA's Medical Student Boot Camp

This Summer, Catholic medical students from across the country can take advantage of a unique opportunity at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. The Catholic Medical Association, in primary partnership with St. Charles Borromeo Graduate School of Theology, will be holding a four-day intensive formation experience. The Annual Medical Student Boot Camp will consist of prayer, study, practical training, and mentoring with leading Catholic Physicians, Priests, and Moral Theologians from the area.

The CMA looks to provide students with the support and the tools to: "Live and thrive as faithful Catholic Physicians," to "develop skills to organize Catholic support groups within medical schools," and to "evangelize the Catholics and non-Catholics encountered throughout medical training."

The NCBC supports the organization of such a program and invites you to spread the word to any Catholic medical students you may know who would benefit from the CMA event.

The Boot Camp will take place from June 17-22 and requires application beforehand. Successful applicants will have 90% of their travel expenses covered by the program sponsors!

If you, or anyone you know would like to participate in this excellent experience, please visit the program website and registration page, HERE.

Thank you for your continued support of The National Catholic Bioethics Center and of Catholic medical ethics in our nation. Please continue to pray for us and for all of our endeavors.