Masters Theses


Mary Caldwell

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Glenn C. Graber

Committee Members

John Hardwig


The purpose of this project is to explore feminist Christian bioethics. There has been, in recent decades, a notable decrease in a theological voice in bioethical conversation. Noting that many patients, as well as health care professionals, are people of faith, and acknowledging that faith matters in ethical decision-making, the absence of attention to this important dimension of the moral lives of persons is an injustice. While there is a body of Christian bioethical literature, much of it is centered in one particular theological perspective.

I have examined the theology of a feminist Christian, Rosemary Ruether and extrapolated from her work a basis for a feminist Christian bioethic. Ruther's work is an interpretation of scripture and a broadly-inclusive tradition, seen through the lens of feminist theoryShe centers her work in what she calls the "prophetic-liberating" tradition of biblical faith, which seeks the realization of the "full humanity of women."

I have formulated a feminist Christian bioethic, based in Ruether, and examined two bioethical issues. I have explored surrogate motherhood and physician-assisted suicide, comparing the traditional Christian position, the feminist philosophical position, and the feminist Christian position. I have shown that the feminist Christian position does indeed differ in significant ways from the other views, while also having certain dimensions in common. Feminist Christian bioethics may well offer access for a Christian voice to rejoin the larger bioethical conversation, as well as an alternative Christian perspective for some believers.

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