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Healing and Autonomy

The conflict between religion and health care has been a major area of concern for physicians and patients over the years. It stems from the fact that some religious beliefs tend to interfere with the provision of quality health care. As a result, some individuals tend to refuse medical treatment, which may ultimately cause death. To make matters worse, children are most widely affected as their fates are based on their parents’ beliefs and motivation for action. In this regard, based on a case study “Healing and Autonomy,” the following essay aims to prove that Christian beliefs tend to deter the provision of quality care among children. Besides, the paper includes a critique of principlism through the moral doctrines of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice and discusses how they are applied in the interaction between religion and medicine.

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The Most Pressing Issues in the Case Study from the Perspective of Christianity

In the case study “Healing and Autonomy,” various issues arise in the process of deriving a treatment plan for James, who is suffering from glomerulonephritis caused by a streptococcus infection. Based on the Christian point of view, there is an issue of faith that hinders the provision of adequate care for James. It is observed through Joanne and Mike’s decision to forgo the dialysis necessary for James and place their faith in God. Their decision is mainly fostered by their strong belief in the spiritual powers that can influence the mind and body. Besides, they had earlier witnessed a close friend regain mobility from a stroke after a healing service; thus, they saw believing in divine healing as the best probable course of action for James.

Additionally, there is also an issue of viewing James’ condition as a punishment from God. It is evident from Mike wondering whether God was punishing him or James. In this regard, Mike was perplexed and tormented by his decision of not conforming to the dialysis earlier, what had worsened James’ condition. Similarly, after being presented with the option of using James’ brother Samuel as a donor, he viewed the whole situation as God’s test of his Faith. To be more precise, he viewed it as an ultimate way in which he can prove his trust in God. Thus, he was torn between waiting for God to perform a miracle and allowing Samuel to lose a kidney to save his brother’s life.

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Should the Physician Allow Mike Continue Making Decisions That Seem to Him Irrational and Harmful to James?

Although doctors have to exercise respect of autonomy during Mike and Joanne’s first visit, where James parents were allowed to use their will free independent from other’s control, physician should not allow Mike to continue making decisions that seem irrational and harmful to James. In this regard, the physician should exercise beneficence, which directs that people should always contribute to the other people’s welfare as an embodiment of the Golden Rule (Lawrence, 2007). Further, as per the principle of active beneficence, the physician should guide Mike as a moral agent to ensure beneficial treatment for James. Therefore, the physician should convince Mike to put the interests of James above anything else. Similarly, the physician should also integrate the utility principle in guiding Mike towards resolving the dilemma of choosing between trusting God and allowing his son Samuel to lose a kidney to save life. The utility principle would be beneficial as it would enable Mike to weigh both advantages and disadvantages before making the best decision.

Furthermore, and as per the non-maleficence principle, the physician should not allow Mike to make decisions that are harmful to James. It is necessary because the doctor is obligated to protect the patient against any form of harm, including ending the course of treatment. Besides, allowing Mike to continue making decisions that are not only irrational but also harmful to James would be unjust to the child. This, according to the justice principle, addresses the issue of respecting other people’s rights and morally acceptable laws. James is entitled to the right to live and denying him a kidney transplant would be an infringement of that right (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001).

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The Analysis of the Case According to the Christian Narrative and Discussion of the Issues of Medication Refusal, Patient Autonomy, and Organ Benefaction

The issues of treatment refusal, patient autonomy, and organ donation from the Christian narrative are presented in the case study. One might analyze the case to include a form of child abuse and neglect because the failure to provide essential medical care to a child is recognized as a kind of neglect according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Therefore, James’ parents denied him proper medical care by refusing from dialysis, which led to the endangerment of the child’s life. The parents are having further doubts on whether to allow kidney transplantation or just put their faith in God, a fact that may foster James’ demise due to the lack of proper treatment.

Furthermore, as per Traphagan (2013), the case can be categorized as a child abuse situation according to the ethical principles of autonomy and respect for persons. It is commonly accepted that children lack the capacity to make free decisions and, hence, the responsibility is bestowed upon the parents to make medical choices on their behalf. Their decisions should primarily focus on the child’s well-being. However, in the case study, James’ parents abuses their liberty by not focusing on their child’s welfare because of their religious beliefs. As a result, their actions led to direct harm to the child, qualifying this occurrence to be a case of child abuse. In this line, it is prima facie wrong for parents to abuse children’s rights by making them martyrs based before they reach the legal age of making decisions for themselves.

How Christians Should Think about Sickness and Health

To avoid unnecessary deaths based on beliefs, Christians ought to change the way they perceive illness and health. More precisely, they should develop a more practical approach while dealing with and making decisions related to sickness and health. Thus, they should stop viewing every illness as a spiritual matter that requires divine intervention and learn how to live a biblically balanced life. In this line, they ought to integrate principlism into their daily activities as it is consistent with most of interdisciplinary universal values such as Christian values towards moral decision making (Lawrence, 2007). Regarding autonomy, the fundamental principle of a person falls under basic human rights, which directs people towards respecting other’s rights. It additionally conforms to the Christian values and beliefs. Hence, Christians should employ the principle while evaluating their decisions on sickness and health matters (Traphagan, 2013).

Similarly, Christians should stop viewing illness and health as forms of punishment from God, where they are supposed to accept the punishment and repent of their sins. According to Beauchamp and Childress (2001), they should use principlism to evaluate medical conditions as it will empower them to make informed choices on health matters. It is possible that every decision they make will be dilemmatic and morally evaluated. More precisely, every decision will be either morally right or wrong, depending on the principle used. In this line and relating to sickness and health, Christians will learn that: (1) human subjects should not be harmed, (2) balancing risks and benefits is paramount, and (3) it is important to protect people with diminished autonomy, etc.

What Should Mike Do as a Christian and How Should He Reason about Trusting God and Treating James?

As a Christian, Mike should address all the ethical issues facing his predicament using principlism as a practical moral decision-making approach. To be more precise, he should employ beneficence and non-maleficence while evaluating his options on whether to put his trust in God or to treat James. It is attributed to the fact that beneficence is regarded as a principle that contributes to the welfare of others. Thus, the decision Mike has to make should be directed towards benefiting James. It is Mike’s responsibility to provide and direct quality care that will help his son James after weighing the benefits against issues that may result from each decision path.

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Nonetheless, according to the non-maleficence principle, Mike should reason on the most likely point of action through the principle of not harming others. In this regard, the consequences of his actions should be evaluated in a manner that could not cause his son any form of injury. In this sense, the principle of beneficence and non-maleficence would play a significant role in enabling Mike to determine the ideal choice in his predicament by weighing the good against the risks of specific actions.

In conclusion, there is a multifaceted relationship between religion and health care as most Christian beliefs and values tend to interfere with the provision of healthcare in a variety of ways. It is derived from the fact that some Christians make irrational decisions that may harm their children because of their religion, while physicians take no actions to stop them. Hence, the above essay has clearly outlined various ways in which doctors and Christians can employ the principlism moral principles in the provision of health care. In this line, quality of health care will substantially improve as children with limited independence will be protected.

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