I started the bioethics course last September and finished it in May and had two months to complete the paper. It was overwhelming for me to attempt to write a 20 page thesis when I have not written an academic paper, with footnotes, bibliography etc. since college in 1980! I published a couple of medical journal articles over the years but they were a lot shorter and were joint efforts with others, so this was a much greater challenge.
I chose the topic of antibiotic use in end-stage dementia. Currently there is a move in medicine to not treat elderly patients with advanced dementia for infections. The prevailing wisdom is to just let them die of pneumonia because their "quality of life is so poor." The point of my paper was to defend a thesis that states we should not withhold antibiotics to those with end-stage dementia. The problem, once I started researching, was finding that the majority of the academic literature supports withholding antibiotics. Fortunately using the Ethical Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare as well as some articles that showed the prolongation of life and decrease symptoms with antibiotics I was able to, I believe, defend the thesis. I will find out....
The foundation of all Catholic bioethics is the belief that human life is a gift from God. Therefore, life itself is a good and a foundation of all other goods. Thus, we are morally obligated to use proportionate means to preserve our life, as long as those means are not over burdensome to the patient and the community. The withholding of antibiotics to demented patients with infections is euthanasia by omission.
Thanks be to God and all the saints who interceded for me, and my patient wife and son who helped with editing, proofreading and encouragement all along the way.