The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 10, Issue 3, Autumn 2010

Rev. Benedict M. Guevin, OSB
Pages 471-480

Vital Conflicts and Virtue Ethics

In his book Vital Conflicts in Medical Ethics: A Virtue Approach to Craniotomy and Tubal Pregnancies, Martin Rhonheimer offers a virtue approach to vital conflicts in medical ethics. These vital conflicts are those medical situations involving pregnancy in which, if nothing is done, both the mother and her child will die. When analyzed by means of his understanding of the virtue of justice, Rhonheimer concludes that the so-called direct killing of children in the womb or in the fallopian tube is permissible since the child’s death is neither a means to saving the mother’s life nor an end sought for itself and is, therefore, not unjust. Because such a death is not unjust, it is also not a moral evil since only an unjust death can be called a moral evil. The author offers a critique of both his understanding of justice and what constitutes the “object” of the moral act. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 10.3 (Autumn 2010): 471–480.