The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 12, Issue 1, Spring 2012

The Principle of Totality and Integrity

June Mary Z. Makdisi
Pages 43-54

Application of the Principle of Totality and Integrity in American Case Law

God presented each of us with the gift of human life, for which we each have a duty of stewardship. The complementary principles of totality and integrity provide moral guidance for decisions on whether specific acts are consistent with this obligation. Totality directs that anatomical completeness must not be sacrificed without proportional justification. Integrity focuses on maintaining basic human capacities and provides a hierarchical ordering of higher functions over lower functions for use in decision making. The decisions of secular American courts rely heavily on statutory authority and case precedent. This essay explores whether the moral principle of totality and integrity is reflected in judicial opinions. The first part examines judicial decisions in cases in which the plaintiff’s desired outcome was consistent with the principle of totality and integrity. The second part analyzes judicial decisions in which the desired outcome was not consistent with this moral principle. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 12.1 (Spring 2012): 43–54.