ERIC Number: ED312561
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Health Care Decisions at the End of Life: Theological and Ethical Foundations for Decision Making.
Allegretti, Joseph G.
This paper provides a framework for making sense of perplexing problems surrounding issues of death and dying by exploring the theological and ethical background to health care decision making at the end of life. The paper first examines several of the basic principles that theologians and secular ethicists employ when analyzing such questions. These fundamental principles include respect for life; autonomy; do no harm; do good; and justice. The paper then goes on to examine three critical distinctions that theologians and ethicists employ when confronting the ethics of death and dying in concrete cases: (1) the distinction between the direct and indirect effects of an action; (2) the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means of treatment; and (3) the distinction between killing and letting die. The stated intent is to provide the reader with an understanding of the basic analytical tools of medical ethics, and thereby help the reader become an informed participant in the debates about health care decision making at the end of life. The paper concludes that, in making health care decisions at the end of life, life should be preserved and promoted, but there are times when it is morally appropriate to permit someone to die rather engage in a futile holding action against death. (Author/ABL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Forum on Research in Aging (6th, Lincoln, NE, September 20-21, 1989).