As David Kelly writes, "Catholic moral theology has not been completely constant over the centuries; it has learned and developed". "In Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics" he demonstrates how Catholic health care ethics can - and should - evolve similarly in response to the lightning speed of modern medical advances. Kelly draws on and analyzes the Catholic tradition of medical ethics - but he does not shy away from criticizing it as well, giving health care professionals, hospital ethics committees, and students a fresh treatment of Catholic health care ethics emphasizing theology, methodology, and application. First discussing the Catholic understanding of the human person, Kelly proposes a Catholic Christian approach to the meaning of human life as it applies specifically to health care. He includes a brief history of the relationship between religion and medicine, and makes strong claims about how theology ought and ought not to be applied in health care ethics.
Drawing from the terminology and approaches used by secular bioethics, he suggests how a Catholic perspective on health care can utilize certain secular moral-philosophical positions, even as they apply to the issues of birth control, and end-of life concerns. As practitioners, patients, and families face the difficult decision to continue or stop treatment for dying patients, Kelly compassionately, but practically, explores their concerns in light of American law and ethics. Finally, he provides measured insight on pain management, hospital ethics committees, stem cell research, genetic engineering, and allocation of health care resources. "Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics" is informed, challenging, articulate, and bold - bringing to the extremely important field of Catholic health care ethics a much-needed and welcome voice, unafraid to speak to the most difficult issues of the 21st century.