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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 17, Issue 3, Autumn 2017

Irene Alexander
Pages 399-408

The Error of Intentionalism

Some Catholic theologians are redefining the meaning of “direct” and “indirect” by including only the agent’s intention in defining the moral object, while simultaneously excluding the physical actions that the agent consciously and deliberately chooses. The net effect is that these theologians now approve of many kinds of abortions traditionally understood to be morally evil in situations of maternal–fetal vital conflict. Such an error has grave implications for Catholic bioethics and health care. When the intentionalist method is applied to other disputed questions in bioethics, however, it becomes clear that its ideology is fundamentally erroneous.

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