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

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

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

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.

Excerpt

Law . . . should more properly serve as a means to preserve the diversity of the communities of meaning.

Stephen L. Carter

Faith in medical progress has created public dilemmas at both the beginning and end of life. The collective search for meaning in our large and complex society fails to acknowledge the influence of basic social institutions—family, religion, science, medicine, and law—in shaping its intimate concepts. Too often individuals have turned to law, and particularly the United States Supreme Court, to provide some guidance in their search for community. Science also appears to offer guidance. Faith in scientific progress and its alliance with medicine has raised the question of whether individuals—in collaboration with health care professionals in their service—should create life or control death.

Most Americans believe contemporary science provides an institutional perspective that is not susceptible to charges of anti-intellectualism. Thus, the institution of modern science provides the backdrop for the public discourse about life, death, and medicine. For instance, federal regulators recently announced that research on “stem cells,” extracted from human embryos, did not violate the congressional ban on using federal funds for human embryo research. Stem cells, un . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.