The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 15, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Peter J. Cataldo, Elliott Louis Bedford
Pages 53-61

Prospective Medical-Moral Decision Making

In recent articles, Daniel Gannon argues that, according to Catholic morality, morally good decision making about life-sustaining treatment is intrinsically based on in-the-moment circumstances. Measured against this moral criterion, Gannon finds physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) to be morally unacceptable and proposes his own medical order form. The authors argue here that Catholic moral teaching and tradition do not reduce the role of circumstances to those in the present moment and that such a reductive criterion undermines many of the sources of morality, including conscience, prudence, and moral principles such as the principle of ethically proportionate and disproportionate means. The authors also show that Gannon’s criterion and form generate conceptual and practical contradictions, that POLST is not intrinsically evil, and that when properly implemented, POLST can be morally acceptable. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 15.1 (Spring 2015): 53–61.

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