The End of Human Life

Clinical Bioethics in the Catholic Tradition
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670)

A Three-Part Intensive Series (March 24th – April 7th – April 21st).
When: The seminar meets every other Tuesday evening from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Where: Houston Hall 223, Golkin Room (3417 Spruce Street, University of Pennsylvania)

Overview:

The Catholic Tradition has a long history of bioethical reasoning and decision making concerning end of life issues. Yet, what ought to be done in specific cases is still challenging for clinicians as well as for patients and their families. These seminars will analyze contemporary real world cases in light of Catholic Bioethics. The goals of each seminar include: 1) furthering participants understanding of the philosophical foundations of the Tradition; 2) enhancing understanding of specific teachings regarding end of life care; and 3) developing skills of practical clinical ethics decision making. These are interactive seminars designed to present material in an engaging format for active learning.

No Advanced Reading or Preparation Required! Those who attend all three sessions will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Session I:What is the End of Life: Ethical Decisions Surrounding Brain Death
The Cases of Jaci McGrath and Malise Munoz

What qualifies as brain death? Who decides? What is the Church’s view on the moral status of brain death and what do we owe the unconscious and the dead? What do we owe to fetuses in the context of a brain dead mother.

Session II:Choosing Well at the End of Life: Ethical Decisions Regarding Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment by Self and Others
The Cases of Nancy Cruzan, Christopher Reeves, and Tim Bowers

When is it permissible to forego life-sustaining treatment? Is there a moral distinction between withholding and withdrawing end of life care? What are the unique ethical challenges regarding withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH)? Can advanced directives and living wills ever be ignored ethically and if so in what contexts?

Session III: Securing Dignity at the End of Life: Decision Making and Hastening Death
The Cases of Theresa Ann Campo Pearson and Brittany Maynard

What is the meaning of “dignity” when we say “Death with Dignity?” Can we ever hasten or cause dying to prevent suffering or to help others? What is the duty of the physician when adequate pain management entails hastening death? Do we have the right to die and if so what does it mean? Is there inherent value in suffering? What if the good to be achieved by death seems so much greater than continued life? What is the ethically appropriate role of the treating physician in these cases?

SEMINAR CO-LED BY:

Sarah-Vaughan Brakman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University. Professor Brakman’s scholarship focuses on clinical bioethics and has been published in, among other places, The Hastings Center Report, The American Journal of Bioethics, Human Reproduction, Hypatia, and Philosophy in the Contemporary World. Professor Brakman is co-editor of the book, The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition (Springer, 2007) and is a nationally recognized expert in the area of the ethics of embryo donation, serving as such for the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to her work on numerous ethics committees throughout the Philadelphia area, Professor Brakman is the Ethics Consultant and Chair of the National Ethics Committee of Devereux, the largest non-profit provider of behavioral and mental healthcare across the United States, where she also serves as a voting member of the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

 

Kristen Carey Rock is an Assistant Professor in Anesthesia and Critical Care, and a practicing anesthesiologist and intensivist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She has written articles on bioethics in the Penn Bioethics Journal and The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition: Moral Arguments, Economic Reality, Social Analysis (Springer, 2008).

 

 

To register for the seminar, please click here.