This unit examines the biblical perspective on the value of human life and health care, considers the basic principles of Christian health ethics, the primacy of the person and the duty of reasonable care at every stage of human life, and moral principles relevant to the identity of Catholic hospitals. Topics covered include abortion, euthanasia, the withholding of treatment, HIV/AIDS, rape, the anencephalic foetus, transplants of donated organs, the allocation of scarce resources, prenatal diagnosis, treatments for infertility, and reproductive technology.

Unit code: DT2060C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Moral Theology

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate an understanding of how the Catholic bioethical principles are based on insights drawn from biblical texts, the Christian tradition, Catholic teaching and sound philosophical reasoning for the good of the human person.


Formulate arguments to support a Christian understanding of Bioethics and Healthcare Ethics in response to its secular critics.


Analyse arguments for the moral inviolability of human life from conception to death, including cases of voluntary euthanasia.


Clarify the general ethical responsibilities of healthcare professionals in their dealings with patients and/or their children, born or unborn.


Apply Catholic ethical principles to frequently occurring cases in the domain of assisted reproductive technology.


Evaluate why some medical treatments may be ordinary or morally obligatory in some circumstances, and not obligatory in different circumstances for other patients.

Unit sequence

CT1100C; CT1110C; BS1001C; BS1002C


Lectures, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Ashcroft, Richard E., and Raanan Gillon, eds. Principles of Health Care Ethics. 2nd ed. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.
  • Ashley, Benedict M., Jean de Blois, and Kevin D. O’Rourke. Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis. 5th ed. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006.
  • Beauchamp, Tom L. and James F. Childress. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Catholic Health Australia. Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services in Australia. Red Hill, ACT: Catholic Health Australia, 2001.
  • Fisher, Anthony. Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Ford, Norman. The Prenatal Person: Ethics from Conception to Birth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
  • Gill, Robin. Health Care and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Lysaught, M Therese. On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives in Medical Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 2012.
  • Morrison, Eileen E., ed. Healthcare Ethics: Critical Issues for the Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2009.
  • Shannon, Thomas and Nicholas Kochler. An Introduction to Bioethics, 4th ed. New York/Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2009.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Seminar or Tutorial

1000-word equivalent tutorial presentation

1000 20.0
Essay 2000 50.0
Written Examination

1-hour written examination

1000 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 22 Jul, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000