Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death

Synopsis

As society struggles to cope with the many repercussions of assisted life and death, the evening news is filled with stories of legal battles over frozen embryos and the possible prosecution of doctors for their patients' suicides. Using an "institutional" approach as an alternative to the prevailing "rights" based analysis of problems in law and medicine, this study explains why society should resist the tendency to look to science and law for a resolution of intimate matters, such as how our children are born and how we die. Palmer's institutional approach demonstrates that legislative analysis is often more important than judicial analysis when it comes to issues raised by new reproductive technologies and physician-assisted suicide. A reliance on individual rights alone for answers to the complex ethical questions that result from society's faith in scientific progress and science's close alliance with medicine will be insufficient and ill-advised.