Monday, July 09, 2007

Human Dignity

“The root cause of all unjust discrimination is the failure to understand that human dignity is not based on physical or mental health, any more than it is upon money or education, but upon the single fact that a human person is made in the image of God. Once this principle is firmly held, there is no shame or personal inferiority in being blind, crippled, homosexually oriented, poor, or illiterate. All are equally persons, have the same human rights, and have the same claim to justice and dignity. Thus, it is contrary to the Gospel to refuse to respect the rights of others because of their nationality, race, sex, age, or physical or mental impairment. The health care professions, in their best tradition, have always sought to help people on the basis of need, not because of social status.

“Jesus said, “Treat others they way you would have them treat you: this sums up the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12). Thus, we formulate the principle of human dignity as follows: All ethical decisions in health care must aim at human dignity, that is, the maximal integrated satisfaction of the innate and cultural needs—biological, psychological, ethical, and spiritual—of all human persons, as individuals and as members of both their national communities and the world community.”

(From Ethics of Health Care, Third Edition
Benedict M. Ashley, O.P., Kevin D. O’Rourke, O.P.)

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