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About Bioethics (vol. 2): Caring for People Who Are Sick or Dying

Connorcourt Publishing,

2012, RRP $29.95

Reviewed by Rev Dr Noel Preston, adjunct Professor in Ethics at Griffith University and volunteer chaplain at Wesley Hospital.

THAT we will all die is a fact of life but how we are to die or whether we are to live may become a matter of ethical dispute.

Indeed, we may safely predict that, at some point, in societies like ours, the dilemmas of bioethics confront all families.

Part of a developing series, About Bioethics (vol. 2) is not a complete bioethics text.

It deals with issues such as the right to know and refusal of treatment; end-of-life questions like euthanasia, artificial feeding, pain management, representation and advanced directives; and includes a short piece on mental illness.

The author is a nationally respected professional, a Roman Catholic bioethicist who is currently Associate Dean and Head of Bioethics at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.

Altogether, the text illustrates helpfully how an (official) Catholic moral theologian combines reason and faith.

He unambiguously relates his formation in the natural law tradition of Catholic moral theology with his decades of experience in public debate and on committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The impact of Dr Tonti- Filippini's own faith stance is explicit throughout, especially as he relates his personal story of long-term suffering with life threatening disease.

Indeed, his reflections on suffering, in the context of bioethics and pastoral care, are challenging.

In the end, though, it is more than a bioethics manual on death and dying; it may interest particular general readers, and it is a must for the shelves of those with responsibilities in health-care ethics.

Though it is primarily a resource for carers who work in Catholic institutions, this reviewer's copy will find its way into the Pastoral Care library at the Wesley Hospital.