Saint Pope John Paul II

Unconscientious Prestidigitation: Texas Alliance for Life’s Support for Senate Bill 303

by Peter Amos

Joe Kral’s preachy article, “The Fight for End-Of-Life Care: Vitalism vs. Catholicism”

is published on the blog

Kral’s objective is to demonstrate that Catholic teaching

supports SB 303 and that pro-life opponents of SB 303 are “vitalists.”

After citing an uncontested pro-life point – that patients can morally refuse

extraordinary care, Kral inverts the point to assert that doctors ought to be

able to refuse to give morally optional, extraordinary treatment: “But what

about cases in which a doctor determines that a patient is truly on death’s

doorstep and the patient is asking for treatment that will have no

physiological benefit?” he asks.

To answer his own question, Kral cites Saint Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter of 1995

Evangelium Vitae’s most important teaching about a doctor’s right to refuse for reasons of

conscience the performance of “medical” procedures that are “intrinsically incompatible

with human dignity.”

Examples of this would be the list of intrinsically evil acts, abortion, euthanasia, and the like.

Kral perverts the teaching on conscientious objection by overextending it to

apply to SB 303, which he admits is not about unjust treatment, but about

“costly,” morally optional (but not obligatory) treatment. One, however,

cannot have a conscientious objection to what is morally optional. It is

dangerous to invoke conscientious objection as a magisterial basis to

support a physician or hospital’s act of denying optional treatment for

economic reasons.

It is disturbing that Kral portrays himself as defending conscience rights,

when he is really defending hospital budgets.

Kral’s article is a symbol of TAL’s efforts to support SB 303. TAL has done great

work in other matters, but with SB 303 TAL is “in bed” with the Texas Catholic Conference

and the Texas Hospital Association and is missing its own purpose. Even though I

have no expectation after TAL’s numerous bungled attempts to justify SB303, I look

forward to Kral’s next article.

Peter Amos

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Kassi Marks says:

    Dear Peter Amos,

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful insight based on an accurate representation of authentic Church teaching. We need more of that! Version 2.0 of SB 303 will likely reappear next session under some other number. We see evidence of that now as those that supported it (and claimed Church/Catholic theological support for it) are “training” others – incorrectly – on these vital pro-life issues. SB 303 had the unfortunate backing of the TCC and certain pro-life groups (like TAL, but some that are Catholic as well who take cover under the TCC’s endorsement, thereby compounding their error of supporting passive euthanasia with the error of clericalism). This is unfortunate.

    But in my experience, we can reach many with an unwavering commitment to telling the truth even when it is unpopular and even when it means we are at odds with those who we wish we were not. When I encouraged others to read the text of the bill for themselves, they invariably found that it did not comport with the talking points of its supporters. When I encouraged others to read the Church documents (as opposed to USCCB documents or misquoted Church documents) on the issue, they invariably saw the light.

    We are all, as you know, under a moral obligation to search for and find the truth for ourselves. Reliance upon others to tell us what to do and believe is simply insufficient. You have a clear grasp of the issue and moral teaching on the matter. You can do much to encourage others to learn what the authentic teaching of the Church really is; learn to think independently of others; and then encourage them to act consistently with authentic Church teaching on this most urgent life issue. In so doing, you will help to save lives (and perhaps, in some cases, even souls) as a result. I hope you will write more on these matters as things progress in the upcoming legislative session.

    God Bless you, sir, and Merry Christmas!

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