Attitudes towards reproduction in Latin America. Teachings from the use of modern reproductive technologies.
The use of modern reproductive technology, such as in-vitro fertilization and its related procedures, has opened new areas of legal, religious and public concern. Thirty years ago, the development of effective methods to control procreation generated a debate on whether couples had the right to enjoy sex in the absence of its procreative effect. Today, assisted reproductive technology (ART) allows couples to have their own children in the absence of a direct intermediation of sex. The Catholic Church has reacted against both contraception and ART, and specific instructions have been directed to the public, the medical profession and legislators. In a recent survey, 88.4% of the population in Latin America claims to be Catholic; therefore, bioethical considerations and legal implications concerning intervention in reproduction are strongly permeated by the moral teachings of Catholicism. In 1996, 83 medical doctors and scientists, participating in the Latin American Network of Assisted Reproduction, produced a consensus document on ethical aspects and legal implications of ART. The document contains minimal ethical guidelines that Latin American professionals have decided to adhere to, even in the absence of legal regulations. This article examines how the medical profession, legislators and the public react to religious influence when confronted by difficult bioethical decisions such as the right to procreate. (+info)
Serum folate and the severity of atrophy of the neocortex in Alzheimer disease: findings from the Nun study.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggested that low concentrations of folate in the blood are related to poor cognitive function, dementia, and Alzheimer disease-related neurodegeneration of the brain. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to determine whether serum folate is inversely associated with the severity of atrophy of the neocortex. DESIGN: Nutrients, lipoproteins, and nutritional markers were measured in the blood of 30 participants in the Nun Study from one convent who later died when they were 78-101 y old (mean: 91 y). At autopsy, several neuropathologic indicators of Alzheimer disease were determined, including the degree of atrophy of 3 lobes of the neocortex (frontal, temporal, and parietal) and the number of neocortical Alzheimer disease lesions (ie, senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) as assessed by a neuropathologist. RESULTS: The correlation between serum folate and the severity of atrophy of the neocortex was -0.40 (P = 0.03). Among a subset of 15 participants with significant numbers of Alzheimer disease lesions in the neocortex, the correlation between folate and atrophy was -0.80 (P = 0.0006). Atrophy may be specific to low folate because none of the 18 other nutrients, lipoproteins, or nutritional markers measured in the blood had significant negative correlations with atrophy. CONCLUSIONS: Among elderly Catholic sisters who lived in one convent, ate from the same kitchen, and were highly comparable for a wide range of environmental and lifestyle factors, low serum folate was strongly associated with atrophy of the cerebral cortex. Definitive evidence for this relation and its temporal sequence awaits the findings of other studies. (+info)
Hospitals sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church: separate, equal, and distinct?
For centuries, the Catholic Church has been a major social actor in the provision of health services, particularly health care delivered in hospitals. Through a confluence of powerful environmental forces at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the future of Catholic health care is threatened. Although Catholic hospitals are a separate case of private, nonprofit hospitals, they have experienced environmental pressures to become isomorphic with other hospital ownership types and, on some dimensions, they are equal. To keep pace with the changing demands of religion and the social role of the hospital, Catholic hospitals continue to redefine themselves. To justify a distinct and legitimate social role, more research should be conducted to develop and measure indicators of Catholic identity. (+info)
Informed consent for emergency contraception: variability in hospital care of rape victims.
There is growing concern that rape victims are not provided with emergency contraceptives in many hospital emergency rooms, particularly in Catholic hospitals. In a small pilot study, we examined policies and practices relating to providing information, prescriptions, and pregnancy prophylaxis in emergency rooms. We held structured telephone interviews with emergency department personnel in 58 large urban hospitals, including 28 Catholic hospitals, from across the United States. Our results showed that some Catholic hospitals have policies that prohibit the discussion of emergency contraceptives with rape victims, and in some of these hospitals, a victim would learn about the treatment only by asking. Such policies and practices are contrary to Catholic teaching. More seriously, they undermine a victim's right to information about her treatment options and jeopardize physicians' fiduciary responsibility to act in their patients' best interests. We suggest that institutions must reevaluate their restrictive policies. If they fail to do so, we believe that state legislation requiring hospitals to meet the standard of care for treatment of rape victims is appropriate. (+info)
Determinants of infant and early childhood mortality levels and their decline in the Netherlands in the late nineteenth century.
OBJECTIVE: To study the relative importance of various determinants of total and cause-specific infant and early childhood mortality rates and their decline in The Netherlands in the period 1875-1879 to 1895-1899. DATA AND METHODS: Mortality and population data were derived from Statistics Netherlands for 16 towns and 11 rural areas. Mortality levels and their decline were estimated with a Poisson regression model. The associations of the estimated levels and declines, and determinants of infant and early childhood mortality were analysed using multivariate linear regression analysis. The causes of death studied were major contributors to infant mortality (convulsions, acute digestive disease, acute respiratory disease) and early childhood mortality (encephalitis/meningitis, acute respiratory disease, measles). RESULTS: Infant mortality rates were high in the south-western part of The Netherlands in 1875-1879. Due to a rapid decline in the western regions, this pattern changed to a north-south gradient in 1895-1899. Early childhood mortality showed an urban-rural gradient in 1875-1879 with mortality high in towns. This gradient had largely disappeared by 1895-1899, due to a rapid decline in mortality in towns. Roman Catholicism was significantly associated with infant mortality (particularly from diarrhoeal disease) in 1875-1879 and 1895-1899. The association with Roman Catholicism was stronger in 1895-1899 because mortality declines were less rapid in Roman Catholic areas in 1875-1879 to 1895-1899. Urbanization was significantly associated with early childhood mortality (particularly from respiratory disease) in 1875-1879 and 1895-1899. This association weakened over time, due to the rapid decline in mortality in towns. CONCLUSIONS: Different determinants of mortality (decline) were important in infant and early childhood mortality and they acted on different causes of death. Therefore, infant and childhood mortality should be studied separately. International comparison of the results showed that findings with respect to determinants of mortality (decline) for one country do not necessarily apply to other countries. The results for The Netherlands with respect to infant mortality differed from England and Wales. (+info)
Bioethics for clinicians: 27. Catholic bioethics.
There is a long tradition of bioethical reasoning within the Roman Catholic faith, a tradition expressed in scripture, the writings of the Doctors of the Church, papal encyclical documents and reflections by contemporary Catholic theologians. Catholic bioethics is concerned with a broad range of issues, including social justice and the right to health care, the duty to preserve life and the limits of that duty, the ethics of human reproduction and end-of-life decisions. Fundamental to Catholic bioethics is a belief in the sanctity of life and a metaphysical conception of the person as a composite of body and soul. Although there is considerable consensus among Catholic thinkers, differences in philosophical approach have given rise to some diversity of opinion with respect to specific issues. Given the influential history of Catholic reflection on ethical matters, the number of people in Canada who profess to be Catholic, and the continuing presence of Catholic health care institutions, it is helpful for clinicians to be familiar with the central tenets of this tradition while respecting the differing perspectives of patients who identify themselves as Catholic. (+info)
The place for individual conscience.
From a liberationist, feminist, and Catholic point of view, this article attempts to understand the decision of abortion. People are constantly testing their principles and values against the question of abortion. Advances in technology, the rise of communitarianism and the rejection of individualism, and the commodification of children are factors in the way in which the abortion debate is being constructed in society. The paper offers solutions to end the ugliness of the abortion debate by suggesting that we would be able to progress further on the issue of abortion if we looked for the good in the opposing viewpoint. The article continues with a discussion of Catholics For a Free Choice's position on abortion, and notes firstly that there is no firm position within the Catholic Church on when the fetus becomes a person; secondly that the principle of probablism in Roman Catholicism holds that where the church cannot speak definitively on a matter of fact (in this case, on the personhood of the fetus), the consciences of individual Catholics must be primary and respected, and thirdly that the absolute prohibition on abortion by the church is not infallible. In conclusion, only the woman herself can make the abortion decision. (+info)
Two challenges to the double effect doctrine: euthanasia and abortion.
The validity of the double effect doctrine is examined in euthanasia and abortion. In these two situations killing is a method of treatment. It is argued that the doctrine cannot apply to the care of the dying. Firstly, doctors are obliged to harm patients in order to do good to them. Secondly, patients should make their own value judgments about being mutilated or killed. Thirdly, there is little intuitive moral difference between direct and indirect killing. Nor can the doctrine apply to abortion. Doctors kill fetuses as a means of treating the mother. They also kill them as an inevitable side effect of other treatment. Drawing a moral distinction between the direct and the indirect killing gives counterintuitive results. It is suggested that pragmatic rules, not ethics, govern practices around euthanasia and cause it to be more restricted than abortion. (+info)