Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Case Study #2

I'm shocked that it's been quite some time since I last posted. There are less than 24-hours remaining in my regency, as with the conclusion of the second final tomorrow my school year reaches its official conclusion. Without question, I am left feeling bittersweet: a part of me is excited to continue my Jesuit formation, a part of me is sad to leave a school I love.

Over the last two weeks, I have written two further cases for use in my Junior-level moral theology course. I wrote them out of a sense of frustration: too often, moral theology in Catholic schools seems to be obsessed with issues related to sex. I am of a mind that moral theology extends far beyond the area of the body covered by an apron, so I've tried to write cases that would push students to think about issues that are less...well, less sexy!

It's not a long case and I enjoyed spending a class period discussing it with my students. If it's helpful to you, please make use of it!


Following graduation from nursing school, Cara decided to join an international volunteer corps. Assigned to Haiti, she arrived in September to help build, and then teach in, a school. In January, just as the school is about to open, a massive earthquake rocks the country and chaos ensues. Poor building materials and shoddy construction meant that the buildings were susceptible to collapse. As Cara surveys what remains of the city, she is horrified at the devastation.

Cara quickly volunteers to use her flatbed pickup truck in the rescue efforts. She and two others are assigned to look for survivors. All day long, the small team helps to extract women, men, and children from the rubble. Before their eyes, they watch as little miracles take place – an entire family who survived the collapse of their house by hiding under their dining room table – and as spectacles of tremendous horror – the bodies of small children crushed by falling debris – unfold.

As the sun’s light surrenders to dusk, Cara rounds a corner and stumbles upon a ghastly sight. A young woman, around the age of fourteen, is lying facedown on the ground. Cara approaches and the girl’s eyes flutter open. She mutters that she can’t feel her arms or legs. Cara moves some of the rubble off of the girl and sees that the sharp edge of a support beam appears to have severed the girl’s spinal cord. The wound is not deep, but it is obvious to Cara that the girl is going to be a quadriplegic. She takes her vital signs and realizes that the girl is fading quickly. If Cara and her fellow volunteers do not get to her to the hospital, she will be dead in a few hours.

Yet Cara hesitates. She knows how poor Haiti is and that, should this girl survive, her standard of living will be below abysmal. Cara is torn: would it be more merciful to let this girl die or should she bring her to the hospital where surgeons will operate on her. 
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