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 http://www.truthandcharityforum.org/the-fight-for-end-of-life-care-vitalism-vs-catholicism/
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
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.