Shea, John B.
48 Articles at

John B. Shea M.D. F.R.C.P.[C] [65 Spring Garden Ave. Toronto On. Canada M2N 6H9. Contact:



Sterilizing the Unfit

Sterilizing the unfit is an old theme which spread even into America and Canada in the early 20th century. Today we are at it again.

Date posted: 2011-03-26

Death And Catholic Church Teaching

Since 1968, vital organs, necessary for life, have been removed from patients for transplantation. Since then, this has been morally justified by the claim that the donor is "brain dead" or has suffered "cardiac death." Brain death is defined as complete and irreversible loss of all brain function and cardiac death is declared two to five minutes after cessation of the heartbeat.

Date posted: 2011-03-19

The Early Induction of Labour

The Ethical Guide Lines for Lethal Fetal Anomalies at St. Joseph's Health Care, London, Ontario, state that the presence of a lethal fetal anomaly indicates that an infant "is dying in the womb, or will die shortly after birth." The Guidelines also indicate that early induction is not done until after "viability" of the fetus, and is permitted only for a "proportionate reason, which can include grave physical, psychological or psychiatric considerations."

Date posted: 2010-06-06

Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his Address During Harvard Class-Day Afternoon Exercises, June 8, 1978, stated that a decline in civil courage may be the most striking feature an outside observer notices in the West today. This, he said, was particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite in each country, each government, each political party, and at the United Nations. People are so reluctant, he said, to defend common values because of fear of the loss of their material goods, money, leisure, and the almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment, and even of the loss of life in defence of one's country and against aggressors and international terrorists. Now is the time for the CPSO, other medical caregivers' organizations, and society at large, to stand up to totalitarianism and defend the dignity of all human beings.

Date posted: 2009-10-03

Church teaching and human reproduction

Contraception greatly dishonours marriage, the greatness of which is beautifully described by Dietrich von Hildebrand: "No natural human good has been exalted so high in the New Testament. No other good has been chosen to become one of the Seven Sacraments. No other has been endowed with the honor of participating in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. ... The wonderful, divinely appointed relationship between the mysterious procreation of a new human being, and this most intimate communion of love ... illuminates the grandeur and solemnity of this union ... Thus it is that in order to preserve the reverent attitude of the spouses toward the mystery of this union, this general connection between procreation and the communion of love must always be maintained."

Date posted: 2009-08-03

'Cardiac Death' Allows One to Kill the Organ Donor

In 2006, research done by Dr. Gerald Buckberg, a cardio-thoracic surgeon and UCLA expert, demonstrated that a person can survive cardiac arrest for an average of 72 minutes...

Date posted: 2009-07-19

HPV vaccination: A threat to the family

HPV is believed to cause most cases of cancer of the cervix of the uterus. Infection is caused by promiscuous sexual intercourse. Many people have applauded the four provincial Premiers. Recently, however, researchers at McGill University in Montreal have stated that there are many unanswered questions about this vaccination.

Date posted: 2008-01-10

Organ donation: The inconvenient truth

Organ donation can be a moral good if the means used to obtain the organs is itself morally good. The circumstances under which this holds true have been described. The critical question is whether a person is truly dead when declared "brain dead" or to have suffered "cardiac death." The answer, in light of the scientific evidence, is that it has not been established cardiac or brain death criteria indicate the real death of a patient with certainty. Mauro Cozzoli, writing about the status of the embryo, has stated, "The uncertainty with regard to whether we are dealing with a human individual is not an abstract doubt, regarding a theory, principle, or doctrinal position (dubium uris). As such, it is a doubt about a fact concerning the life of a human being, his existence here and now (dubium facti)." As such, "it creates the same obligations as certainty.

Date posted: 2007-12-10

The Church and AIDS

Michael Swan, in his article "Church caught up in condom conundrum" in the Catholic Register, August, 2006, stated that, "There is no official Church position on the use of condoms to prevent transmission of a virus, or on the use of condoms outside marriage." This statement is incorrect. Two recent Church statements are relevant.

Date posted: 2007-10-07

Women's health care - A new era

Currently used artificial reproductive technologies involve the use of artificial insemination. They also include in vitro fertilization in which very high doses of hormones are given to women to make them produce more ova, and may involve the use of women as egg donors and as providers of surrogate wombs. These procedures are morally unacceptable. In contrast, NaProTechnology simply involves keeping a record of the menstrual cycle. Fertility is sometimes achieved by love-making on the fertile days. In other cases, records of the cycle help the physician to diagnose and treat the cause of the infertility, e.g., endometriosis, ovulation irregularities, stress, and anxiety. NaProTechnology is both morally good and medically effective.

Date posted: 2007-09-01

Eugenics and population control in Canada

Catholics must witness to the faith. Catholic medical caregivers, hospital administrators and board members must learn the moral principles which govern patient care and must act in accordance with them. They must learn more about the Church's teaching on the nature and dignity of man and the fact that all are called to salvation, which concerns the human person in all of his or her dimensions, personal and social, spiritual and corporal, historical and transcendent.... Catholics must bring this teaching to the attention of others, not only by word but by example. Contraception, in vitro fertilization, prenatal testing harmful to the unborn, or performed to facilitate abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are all intrinsically evil and cannot be justified by any intention, no matter how good.

Date posted: 2007-08-04

'Doctor, is my baby normal?'

Many doctors have been asked the question, "Doctor, is my baby normal?" The physician replying to the above question must remember that all medical diagnostic tests should be performed only in order to identify and if possible, cure or ameliorate, whatever condition the patient may be suffering from. He or she should also know that some currently used medical diagnostic tests are so dangerous to the patient or to her unborn child that they should rarely be used - and some should not be used at all.

Date posted: 2007-07-02

Deceptive Diagnoses

Language is a means we use to communicate some aspect of reality. In speaking about science and the practice of medicine, what we say must be in keeping with the facts. Because language has great power to do good or evil, it must convey the truth, and that truth must not be concealed or denied by ambiguity, euphemism, falsehood or obscure terminology.

Date posted: 2007-06-08

The Safer Sex Illusion

For human beings, freedom of choice is a given. This is not to say that all of our actions or bodily functions are under voluntary control, but that we have both the intelligence to discriminate between options, and the capacity to select them. We do not always possess, however, the power to determine in advance what the outcome or consequences of our choices are going to be. This sobering fact is relevant to one of the great challenges faced today by the medical profession; how to eradicate an epidemic of sexually transmitted disease which, in some countries, has reached the dimensions of a plague.

Date posted: 2007-04-28

The New Evolutionary Theology

The God of these authors in the America magazine is not the transcendent and omnipotent God of Judeo-Christian revelation and tradition, but is reduced, in accordance with their evolutionary theology, to the status of one who is powerless against Darwin's "iron law" of natural selection. This evolutionary God is one who "trusts creation to operate with genuine autonomy". Since autonomy means self-directing freedom and moral independence, its presence implies an intelligence which can distinguish good from bad, right from wrong, and a free will. Hence these authors seem to ascribe an intelligence and a free will to the physical cosmos. Their theology also appears to be pantheistic and to contradict Church teaching which states that a free will was given only to angels and men, who are spiritual beings.

Date posted: 2007-03-21

Human Embryo Stem Cell Research

For the past twenty-five years experiments have been carried out on human embryos created by the so-called 'sexual' method of in vitro fertilization (IVF) at IVF clinics. The avowed purpose of those experiments has been improvement in the technique of IVF. In 2004, the first human being was conceived by the 'asexual' means of somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning. Those experiments are among many others which have demonstrated that the world is now increasingly threatened by a culture of death.

Date posted: 2007-03-01

The Challenge of ‘Stare Decisis’

When a court makes a decision, it establishes a precedent which is used by subsequent courts in their deliberations. In so doing, they are applying the legal doctrine of ‘stare decisis’, which is one of the most important doctrines in Western law. ‘Stare Decisis’ means “to stand by decided cases, to uphold precedence, to maintain former adjudications,” and is applied extensively in the law courts today.

Date posted: 2006-12-06

Church Teaching and Human Reproduction

The Catholic Church teaches that "the direct interruption of the generative process already begun, and, above all, directly willed and procured abortion, even if for therapeutic reasons, are absolutely excluded as licit means of regulating birth. Equally excluded is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or the woman." This teaching prohibits contraception by means of the condom, intrauterine device, vasectomy, tubal ligation, and chemical contraception by the use of oral contraceptives, morning after pills, or the administration of contraceptives by injection or in a skin patch. The reason for this prohibition is that contraception breaks the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning of the conjugal act.

Date posted: 2006-09-13

The Hastings Center: Special Report, 2005

The Belmont Principles of patient autonomy, beneficence and justice, have provided care givers only with insoluble dilemmas. If the care givers' basic moral principles had been based on natural law and the Catholic Church's teaching, those dilemmas would not have occurred. However, the false anthropology and materialistic nature of their principles does not indicate what is good or what is just.

Date posted: 2006-06-25

Promiscuity's Tragic Trail

The virtue of chastity is the only certain way of preventing the deadly consequences of promiscuity. Postponing sexual activity until marriage with an uninfected mate is the only realistic way for anyone to be one hundred percent sure of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. It also precludes the dangers of contraceptive pill use, and the temptation to have an abortion with its harmful consequences.

Date posted: 2006-06-24

Quo Vadis, Canada?

On February 16, 2005, Mr. Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada, introduced Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, to Parliament. This act defined civil marriage not as it had been previously defined, as "the lawful union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others", but as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."

Date posted: 2006-05-25

The Human Embryo as an Object of Research

Many Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement who oppose laws which would permit research on human embryos fail to realize that there is a fundamental need to outlaw in vitro fertilization in all its forms if such opposition it to be effective. They refer only to cloning research or to cloning on the in vitro embryo but do not oppose the actual creation of the in vitro embryo itself.

Date posted: 2006-05-05

The 'Pre-Embryo' Question

The terms 'pre-embryo' and 'individuality' have been totally discredited, not only by all Human Embryologists, but have also been rejected by the Nomenclature Committee of the American Association of Anatomists for inclusion in the official lexicon of Anatomical Terminology, Terminologia Embryologica. These terms are not used in any official text book of Human Embryology. They are also not used in the Carnegie Stages of Human Early Development. The scientific evidence indicates that from the moment when the sperm makes contact with the oocyte (ovum), human development is an integrated continuum in which one stage follows another throughout all of life until death, and therefore that the developing human being is both a 'genetic' and a 'developmental' individual from the first moment of its existence.

Date posted: 2006-04-15

Eugenics and population control in Canada

Two recent events have provided food for thought. First, a private member's bill, C-407, was introduced to Parliament that proposed to allow any person, under certain conditions, to aid a person close to death or suffering from a debilitating illness to "die with dignity" if that person has expressed the free and informed consent to die. Second, Health Canada plans to introduce pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) regulations in May, 2006. These two events are linked. How so? They both may establish legally binding mandates as to when, how, and why innumerable innocent human beings shall be consigned or abandoned to death. Such proposals naturally bring to mind what Alexander Pope wrote almost 300 years ago, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!"

Date posted: 2006-04-14

The "Morning After" Pill

A human life is not a disease like cancer of the uterus, where the law of double effect might justify the performance of a hysterectomy, despite the indirect and unintended death of a fetus. The embryo did come into existence as the result of a violent and unjust act, the mother's rape, but her or his very existence is not an injustice in itself. To kill such an unborn child would simply add the sin and injustice of murder to the sin and injustice of rape.

Date posted: 2006-03-09

Tyranny by Persuasion

The worldwide loss of a proper understanding of the truth about the meaning of justice and freedom has led to a form of tyranny never before seen in history. It operates with the cooperation of a new class of enforcers - judges, appointed by a powerful elite, who are only too willing to do its bidding. This elite, is described by Robert H. Bork as composed of university faculties, the news media, many churches, foundations, television networks and Hollywood. It rules not only by means of subtle persuasion of the populace, which results in what is euphemistically termed 'consensus', but also by the use of brute power if and when necessary.

Date posted: 2006-02-23

John B.Shea Prophets of Pantheism

In his Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio (Oct. l998), Pope John Paul 11 emphasized that the task of the Church, as bearer of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, to witness to the true faith, can and must challenge philosophy to recover its own full dignity. He defines the human being as one who seeks the truth.

Date posted: 2006-02-18

Non-Heart-Beating Organ Donation

A doubt about a fact concerning the life of a human being, his existence here and now, is a 'dubium facti'. As such "it creates the same obligation as certainty". The question as to when a person dies is also a 'dubium facti', and likewise creates the same obligation as certainty. Pope John Paul II has stated that death "occurs when the spiritual principle which ensures the unity of the individual, can no longer exercise its functions in and upon the organism, whose elements left to themselves, disintegrate."

Date posted: 2006-01-26

Nihilist Medical Ethics

The ethical principles proposed by the CMA are not based on the claim that they are in fact and self-evidently true. They are based simply on the assumption that they are agreed upon by a majority of the Canadian public.

Date posted: 2006-01-04

The Tragedy of HIV/AIDS

This prediction is a sobering reminder that "ideas have consequences". The notion that one can act as if sexual promiscuity is morally acceptable is wrong. The notion that if a condom is used, sexual promiscuity is without hazard to health, is also wrong. One of the logical outcomes of these assumptions is our current HIV crisis. It is a given in medical care that prevention is better than a cure.

Date posted: 2006-01-04

Why do some clergy question abstinence in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

To recommend the condom as a protection against HIV gives a false sense of security, not only in regard to HIV, but also in regard to many other serious diseases, where it provides little or no protection at all.

Date posted: 2006-01-01

New evolutionary theology: Abolishes Adam and Eve, sin, and redemption

Evolution continues to be contentious because so many aspects are scientifically questionable (e.g., development of species through blind chance and natural selection). Within the Catholic community the centre of attack is usually the reality of God's creation of Adam and Eve.

Date posted: 2005-12-26

The Church and the New Age Movement

At the end of the millennium, the year 2000, a yearning for an age of freedom from the evils afflicting the world, the spirit of millenarianism, has returned as it has so many times before. It is not a sect, a religion, a single organization, a science or a philosophy. In some ways it is not even new. It is called a movement in order to indicate that it is a network of individuals and groups who share a world-view and a common desire to change the world.

Date posted: 2005-12-25

A Little Person's Prayer

Hi there! I've just arrived, body and soul in the upper reaches of my Mom's right fallopian tube. Thank God, nothing prevented my Dad's sperm from swimming all the way to reach my Mom's egg, and no chemicals prevented her from providing that egg as usual, each month.

Date posted: 2005-12-25

Justice and the Medical Profession

It must first be acknowledged that the medical profession has a long and honorable record of caring for the sick. In recent years, however, that record has become tarnished. Under the influence of society marinated in materialism, physicians have lowered their moral standards and failed, in many ways, to practice the virtue of justice.

Date posted: 2005-12-25

The Moral Status of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

The Church teaches that medical research must refrain from operations on live embryos, unless there is moral certainty of not causing harm to the life or integrity of the unborn child and mother, and on condition that the parents have given free and informed consent to the procedure. Since stem cell research on human embryos, in practice, invariably causes the death of those embryos, it too stands condemned.

Date posted: 2005-12-25

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Genetic Research

Every human being is to be accepted as a gift and blessing of God. Every child should be conceived as the fruit of marriage. In in-vitro fertilization, procreation is not desired as the fruit of the conjugal act, but is regarded and treated as a fabricated product. This is contrary to the unity of marriage, the dignity of the spouses, the vocation of the parents, and the child's right to be conceived and brought into the world in marriage and from marriage.

Date posted: 2005-12-25

Condom Controversy

Father Michael Stogre S.J., in an article on AIDS in The Catholic Register, May 22, 2005, stated that "Currently, when a spouse has AIDS - the use of condoms to prevent transmission of the virus is more and more being seen not as a contraceptive measure, but as a justifiable medical intervention."

Date posted: 2005-12-24

Catholic teaching on the human embryo as an object of research

Many Catholic leaders in the pro-life movement who oppose laws which would permit research on human embryos fail to realize that there is a fundamental need to outlaw in vitro fertilization in all its forms, if such opposition is to be effective. They refer only to cloning research, or to cloning on the in vitro embryo, but do not oppose the actual creation of the in vitro embryo itself.

Date posted: 2005-12-24

Candy That Kills: 'Plan B'

On March 31, 2005, an article appeared in the Toronto Star in which N. Jane Pepino et al. advocated the sale of 'Plan B', a 'morning after' pill (MAP), without either a prescription or the need to consult a physician or a pharmacist. The article claimed that 'Plan B' levonorgestrel when used as an MAP does not abort, reduces the rate of surgical abortions, and is medically safe. These claims are not correct.

Date posted: 2005-11-11

Freedom of Conscience in the Practice of Medicine

In order to play its part as an effective witness to the Faith, and to act as a light to the world, the laity must know the Faith more profoundly and practice it more consistently than ever, and must acquire a working knowledge of the theology, philosophy and science relevant to their particular station in life. In this way, lay Catholics can, in each profession and every calling in life, give a practical living example to others which can be perceived and understood to be a true witness to Christ and the good news of the gospel.

Date posted: 2005-11-06

Choice and Consequence

Modern ethicists simply assert man's complete moral autonomy as if he were a being not contingent upon God, his Creator. They try to justify themselves with the trappings and panoply of philosophy. Their true spiritual and moral status was vividly foreshadowed by Dante in his poignant and perceptive portrayal of Francesca. Both she and they reject their ultimate accountability. We have no choice but to choose, either the autonomy of the beast or the freedom of the children of God.

Date posted: 2005-11-06

Book Review: Pragmatic Bioethics

From the mid-nineteenth century on, with the rise of atheism and materialism, continental Europe and the English-speaking world progressively abandoned belief in God. Natural law ethics and the moral teaching of the Catholic Church were increasingly rejected, and a purely secular morality began to take their place. Among the wellsprings of Western secular morality were the philosophies of Charles S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey.

Date posted: 2005-11-06

Abortion and the Pill

Most people assume that the common oral contraceptive pill acts only as a contraceptive and that it does not cause abortion. A recent medical article in the Archives of Family Medicine shows that this assumption is incorrect.

Date posted: 2005-11-06

Palliative Care "Killing me softly"

Palliative care is the care given to those who are in imminent danger of death. To 'palliate' is to lessen the suffering of a dying person. There is much debate today as to how this should be done. The term "dying," properly understood, applies to a person whose death may reasonably be expected to occur within, at most, 48 hours. There is also, however, much debate about the meaning given to the word "imminent." The major factors spurring these debates are the judgments made by many about "quality of life," whether a certain kind of life is "worth living," and also about the "cost effectiveness" of keeping a person whose life is deemed to be "not worth living."

Date posted: 2005-10-31

What is bioethics?

Ethics is the discipline dealing with what is good and bad, and with moral duty and obligation. It is of paramount importance, however, to realize at the outset, that the subject now commonly known as "bioethics" is entirely different from traditional medical ethics and from Catholic medical ethics. Traditional medical ethics, which originated with the Greek Hippocrates 2400 years ago, focuses on the physician's duty to the individual patient, whose life and welfare are sacred.

Date posted: 2005-10-27

Terri's Thirst

This my memorial to Terri Sciavo.

Date posted: 2005-04-01

Embryonic Death

New criteria for determining the death of the early human embryo have been proposed by Donald W. Landry and Howard A. Zucker, a team of bio-engineers from Columbia University. Their purpose was to find a justification for pursuing research on human embryonic cells without causing the death of an embryo.....

Date posted: 2005-03-22