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The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 21, Issue 2, Summer 2021

Rev. Anthony Paul Hollowell
Pages 281-296

Virgin Suicide and Vital Conflicts

When threatened with rape, is it permissible for a virgin to commit suicide so that she might preserve her virginity? Both St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose allowed for suicide in these situations because they considered it a martyrdom, but St. Augustine argued that such an act is always illicit unless commanded by God, a teaching later adopted by St. Thomas Aquinas. In this paper, these arguments will be presented and then applied to cases of vital conflict, which involve many of the same principles disputed by these Doctors of the Church. This article contributes to the discussion of vital conflicts by reinforcing its patristic and Thomistic foundation.

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